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Full text of "Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete"

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete
by Albert Bigelow Paine

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Title: Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete
       The Personal And Literary Life Of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

Author: Albert Bigelow Paine

Release Date: August 21, 2006 [EBook #2988]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MARK TWAIN, A BIOGRAPHY, ***




Produced by David Widger





MARK TWAIN A BIOGRAPHY

THE PERSONAL AND LITERARY LIFE OF SAMUEL LANGHORNE CLEMENS

BY ALBERT BIGELOW PAINE



VOLUME I, Part 1: 1835-1866



TO
CLARA CLEMENS GABRILOWITSCH WHO STEADILY UPHELD THE
AUTHOR'S PURPOSE TO WRITE HISTORY RATHER THAN EULOGY AS
THE STORY OF HER FATHER'S LIFE



AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Dear William Dean Howells, Joseph Hopkins Twichell, Joseph T. Goodman,
and other old friends of Mark Twain:

I cannot let these volumes go to press without some grateful word to you
who have helped me during the six years and more that have gone to their
making.

First, I want to confess how I have envied you your association with Mark
Twain in those days when you and he "went gipsying, a long time ago."
Next, I want to express my wonder at your willingness to give me so
unstintedly from your precious letters and memories, when it is in the
nature of man to hoard such treasures, for himself and for those who
follow him. And, lastly, I want to tell you that I do not envy you so
much, any more, for in these chapters, one after another, through your
grace, I have gone gipsying with you all. Neither do I wonder now, for I
have come to know that out of your love for him grew that greater
unselfishness (or divine selfishness, as he himself might have termed
it), and that nothing short of the fullest you could do for his memory
would have contented your hearts.

My gratitude is measureless; and it is world-wide, for there is no land
so distant that it does not contain some one who has eagerly contributed
to the story. Only, I seem so poorly able to put my thanks into words.

Albert Bigelow Paine.



                    PREFATORY NOTE

Certain happenings as recorded in this work will be found to differ
materially from the same incidents and episodes as set down in the
writings of Mr. Clemens himself. Mark Twain's spirit was built of the
very fabric of truth, so far as moral intent was concerned, but in his
earlier autobiographical writings--and most of his earlier writings were
autobiographical--he made no real pretense to accuracy of time, place, or
circumstance--seeking, as he said, "only to tell a good story"--while in
later years an ever-vivid imagination and a capricious memory made
history difficult, even when, as in his so-called "Autobiography," his
effort was in the direction of fact.

"When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or
not," he once said, quaintly, "but I am getting old, and soon I shall
remember only the latter."

The reader may be assured, where discrepancies occur, that the writer of
this memoir has obtained his data from direct and positive sources:
letters, diaries, account-books, or other immediate memoranda; also from
the concurring testimony of eye-witnesses, supported by a unity of
circumstance and conditions, and not from hearsay or vagrant printed
items.



                      MARK TWAIN

                     A BIOGRAPHY
I

ANCESTORS

On page 492 of the old volume of Suetonius, which Mark Twain read until
his very last day, there is a reference to one Flavius Clemens, a man of
wide repute "for his want of energy," and in a marginal note he has
written:

"I guess this is where our line starts."

It was like him to write that. It spoke in his whimsical fashion the
attitude of humility, the ready acknowledgment of shortcoming, which was
his chief characteristic and made him lovable--in his personality and in
his work.

Historically, we need not accept this identity of the Clemens ancestry.
The name itself has a kindly meaning, and was not an uncommon one in
Rome. There was an early pope by that name, and it appears now and again
in the annals of the Middle Ages. More lately there was a Gregory
Clemens, an English landowner who became a member of Parliament under
Cromwell and signed the death-warrant of Charles I. Afterward he was
tried as a regicide, his estates were confiscated, and his head was
exposed on a pole on the top of Westminster Hall.

Tradition says that the family of Gregory Clemens did not remain in
England, but emigrated to Virginia (or New Jersey), and from them, in
direct line, descended the Virginia Clemenses, including John Marshall
Clemens, the father of Mark Twain. Perhaps the line could be traced, and
its various steps identified, but, after all, an ancestor more or less
need not matter when it is the story of a descendant that is to be
written.

Of Mark Twain's immediate forebears, however, there is something to be
said. His paternal grandfather, whose name also was Samuel, was a man of
culture and literary taste. In 1797 he married a Virginia girl, Pamela
Goggin; and of their five children John Marshall Clemens, born August 11,
1798, was the eldest--becoming male head of the family at the age of
seven, when his father was accidentally killed at a house-raising. The
family was not a poor one, but the boy grew up with a taste for work. As
a youth he became a clerk in an iron manufactory, at Lynchburg, and
doubtless studied at night. At all events, he acquired an education, but
injured his health in the mean time, and somewhat later, with his mother
and the younger children, removed to Adair County, Kentucky, where the
widow presently married a sweetheart of her girlhood, one Simon Hancock,
a good man. In due course, John Clemens was sent to Columbia, the
countyseat, to study law. When the living heirs became of age he
administered his father's estate, receiving as his own share three negro
slaves; also a mahogany sideboard, which remains among the Clemens
effects to this day.

This was in 1821. John Clemens was now a young man of twenty-three,
never very robust, but with a good profession, plenty of resolution, and
a heart full of hope and dreams. Sober, industrious, and unswervingly
upright, it seemed certain that he must make his mark. That he was
likely to be somewhat too optimistic, even visionary, was not then
regarded as a misfortune.

It was two years later that he met Jane Lampton; whose mother was a Casey
--a Montgomery-Casey whose father was of the Lamptons (Lambtons) of
Durham, England, and who on her own account was reputed to be the
handsomest girl and the wittiest, as well as the best dancer, in all
Kentucky. The Montgomeries and the Caseys of Kentucky had been Indian
fighters in the Daniel Boone period, and grandmother Casey, who had been
Jane Montgomery, had worn moccasins in her girlhood, and once saved her
life by jumping a fence and out-running a redskin pursuer. The
Montgomery and Casey annals were full of blood-curdling adventures, and
there is to-day a Casey County next to Adair, with a Montgomery County
somewhat farther east. As for the Lamptons, there is an earldom in the
English family, and there were claimants even then in the American
branch. All these things were worth while in Kentucky, but it was rare
Jane Lampton herself--gay, buoyant, celebrated for her beauty and her
grace; able to dance all night, and all day too, for that matter--that
won the heart of John Marshall Clemens, swept him off his feet almost at
the moment of their meeting. Many of the characteristics that made Mark
Twain famous were inherited from his mother. His sense of humor, his
prompt, quaintly spoken philosophy, these were distinctly her
contribution to his fame. Speaking of her in a later day, he once said:

"She had a sort of ability which is rare in man and hardly existent in
woman--the ability to say a humorous thing with the perfect air of not
knowing it to be humorous."

She bequeathed him this, without doubt; also her delicate complexion; her
wonderful wealth of hair; her small, shapely hands and feet, and the
pleasant drawling speech which gave her wit, and his, a serene and
perfect setting.

It was a one-sided love affair, the brief courtship of Jane Lampton and
John Marshall Clemens. All her life, Jane Clemens honored her husband,
and while he lived served him loyally; but the choice of her heart had
been a young physician of Lexington with whom she had quarreled, and her
prompt engagement with John Clemens was a matter of temper rather than
tenderness. She stipulated that the wedding take place at once, and on
May 6, 1823, they were married. She was then twenty; her husband
twenty-five. More than sixty years later, when John Clemens had long
been dead, she took a railway journey to a city where there was an Old
Settlers' Convention, because among the names of those attending she had
noticed the name of the lover of her youth. She meant to humble herself
to him and ask forgiveness after all the years. She arrived too late;
the convention was over, and he was gone. Mark Twain once spoke of this,
and added:

"It is as pathetic a romance as any that has crossed the field of my
personal experience in a long lifetime."




II

THE FORTUNES OF JOHN AND JANE CLEMENS

With all his ability and industry, and with the-best of intentions, John
Clemens would seem to have had an unerring faculty for making business
mistakes. It was his optimistic outlook, no doubt--his absolute
confidence in the prosperity that lay just ahead--which led him from one
unfortunate locality or enterprise to another, as long as he lived. About
a year after his marriage he settled with his young wife in Gainsborough,
Tennessee, a mountain town on the Cumberland River, and here, in 1825,
their first child, a boy, was born. They named him Orion--after the
constellation, perhaps--though they changed the accent to the first
syllable, calling it Orion. Gainsborough was a small place with few
enough law cases; but it could hardly have been as small, or furnished as
few cases; as the next one selected, which was Jamestown, Fentress
County, still farther toward the Eastward Mountains. Yet Jamestown had
the advantage of being brand new, and in the eye of his fancy John
Clemens doubtless saw it the future metropolis of east Tennessee, with
himself its foremost jurist and citizen. He took an immediate and active
interest in the development of the place, established the county-seat
there, built the first Court House, and was promptly elected as circuit
clerk of the court.

It was then that he decided to lay the foundation of a fortune for
himself and his children by acquiring Fentress County land. Grants could
be obtained in those days at the expense of less than a cent an acre, and
John Clemens believed that the years lay not far distant when the land
would increase in value ten thousand, twenty, perhaps even a hundred
thousandfold. There was no wrong estimate in that. Land covered with
the finest primeval timber, and filled with precious minerals, could
hardly fail to become worth millions, even though his entire purchase of
75,000 acres probably did not cost him more than $500. The great tract
lay about twenty nines to the southward of Jamestown. Standing in the
door of the Court House he had built, looking out over the "Knob" of the
Cumberland Mountains toward his vast possessions, he said:

"Whatever befalls me now, my heirs are secure. I may not live to see
these acres turn into silver and gold, but my children will."

Such was the creation of that mirage of wealth, the "Tennessee land,"
which all his days and for long afterward would lie just ahead--a golden
vision, its name the single watchword of the family fortunes--the dream
fading with years, only materializing at last as a theme in a story of
phantom riches, The Gilded Age.

Yet for once John Clemens saw clearly, and if his dream did not come true
he was in no wise to blame. The land is priceless now, and a corporation
of the Clemens heirs is to-day contesting the title of a thin fragment of
it--about one thousand acres--overlooked in some survey.

Believing the future provided for, Clemens turned his attention to
present needs. He built himself a house, unusual in its style and
elegance. It had two windows in each room, and its walls were covered
with plastering, something which no one in Jamestown had ever seen
before. He was regarded as an aristocrat. He wore a swallow-tail coat
of fine blue jeans, instead of the coarse brown native-made cloth. The
blue-jeans coat was ornamented with brass buttons and cost one dollar and
twenty-five cents a yard, a high price for that locality and time. His
wife wore a calico dress for company, while the neighbor wives wore
homespun linsey-woolsey. The new house was referred to as the Crystal
Palace. When John and Jane Clemens attended balls--there were continuous
balls during the holidays--they were considered the most graceful
dancers.

Jamestown did not become the metropolis he had dreamed. It attained
almost immediately to a growth of twenty-five houses--mainly log houses
--and stopped there. The country, too, was sparsely settled; law
practice was slender and unprofitable, the circuit-riding from court to
court was very bad for one of his physique. John Clemens saw his reserve
of health and funds dwindling, and decided to embark in merchandise. He
built himself a store and put in a small country stock of goods. These
he exchanged for ginseng, chestnuts, lampblack, turpentine, rosin, and
other produce of the country, which he took to Louisville every spring
and fall in six-horse wagons. In the mean time he would seem to have
sold one or more of his slaves, doubtless to provide capital. There was
a second baby now--a little girl, Pamela,--born in September, 1827.
Three years later, May 1830, another little girl, Margaret, came. By
this time the store and home were in one building, the store occupying
one room, the household requiring two--clearly the family fortunes were
declining.

About a year after little Margaret was born, John Clemens gave up
Jamestown and moved his family and stock of goods to a point nine miles
distant, known as the Three Forks of Wolf. The Tennessee land was safe,
of course, and would be worth millions some day, but in the mean time the
struggle for daily substance was becoming hard.

He could not have remained at the Three Forks long, for in 1832 we find
him at still another place, on the right bank of Wolf River, where a
post-office called Pall Mall was established, with John Clemens as
postmaster, usually addressed as "Squire" or "Judge." A store was run in
connection with the postoffice. At Pall Mall, in June, 1832, another
boy, Benjamin, was born.

The family at this time occupied a log house built by John Clemens
himself, the store being kept in another log house on the opposite bank
of the river. He no longer practised law. In The Gilded Age we have
Mark Twain's picture of Squire Hawkins and Obedstown, written from
descriptions supplied in later years by his mother and his brother Orion;
and, while not exact in detail, it is not regarded as an exaggerated
presentation of east Tennessee conditions at that time. The chapter is
too long and too depressing to be set down here. The reader may look it
up for himself, if he chooses. If he does he will not wonder that Jane
Clemens's handsome features had become somewhat sharper, and her manner a
shade graver, with the years and burdens of marriage, or that John
Clemens at thirty-six-out of health, out of tune with his environment
--was rapidly getting out of heart. After all the bright promise of the
beginning, things had somehow gone wrong, and hope seemed dwindling away.

A tall man, he had become thin and unusually pale; he looked older than
his years. Every spring he was prostrated with what was called
"sunpain," an acute form of headache, nerve-racking and destroying to all
persistent effort. Yet he did not retreat from his moral and
intellectual standards, or lose the respect of that shiftless community.
He was never intimidated by the rougher element, and his eyes were of a
kind that would disconcert nine men out of ten. Gray and deep-set under
bushy brows, they literally looked you through. Absolutely fearless, he
permitted none to trample on his rights. It is told of John Clemens, at
Jamestown, that once when he had lost a cow he handed the minister on
Sunday morning a notice of the loss to be read from the pulpit, according
to the custom of that community. For some reason, the minister put the
document aside and neglected it. At the close of the service Clemens
rose and, going to the pulpit, read his announcement himself to the
congregation. Those who knew Mark Twain best will not fail to recall in
him certain of his father's legacies.

The arrival of a letter from "Colonel Sellers" inviting the Hawkins
family to come to Missouri is told in The Gilded Age. In reality the
letter was from John Quarles, who had married Jane Clemens's sister,
Patsey Lampton, and settled in Florida, Monroe County, Missouri. It was
a momentous letter in The Gilded Age, and no less so in reality, for it
shifted the entire scene of the Clemens family fortunes, and it had to do
with the birthplace and the shaping of the career of one whose memory is
likely to last as long as American history.




III

A HUMBLE BIRTHPLACE

Florida, Missouri, was a small village in the early thirties--smaller
than it is now, perhaps, though in that day it had more promise, even if
less celebrity. The West was unassembled then, undigested, comparatively
unknown. Two States, Louisiana and Missouri, with less than half a
million white persons, were all that lay beyond the great river. St.
Louis, with its boasted ten thousand inhabitants and its river trade with
the South, was the single metropolis in all that vast uncharted region.
There was no telegraph; there were no railroads, no stage lines of any
consequence--scarcely any maps. For all that one could see or guess, one
place was as promising as another, especially a settlement like Florida,
located at the forks of a pretty stream, Salt River, which those early
settlers believed might one day become navigable and carry the
merchandise of that region down to the mighty Mississippi, thence to the
world outside.

In those days came John A. Quarles, of Kentucky, with his wife, who had
been Patsey Ann Lampton; also, later, Benjamin Lampton, her father, and
others of the Lampton race. It was natural that they should want Jane
Clemens and her husband to give up that disheartening east Tennessee
venture and join them in this new and promising land. It was natural,
too, for John Quarles--happy-hearted, generous, and optimistic--to write
the letter. There were only twenty-one houses in Florida, but Quarles
counted stables, out-buildings--everything with a roof on it--and set
down the number at fifty-four.

Florida, with its iridescent promise and negligible future, was just the
kind of a place that John Clemens with unerring instinct would be certain
to select, and the Quarles letter could have but one answer. Yet there
would be the longing for companionship, too, and Jane Clemens must have
hungered for her people. In The Gilded Age, the Sellers letter ends:

"Come!--rush!--hurry!--don't wait for anything!"

The Clemens family began immediately its preparation for getting away.
The store was sold, and the farm; the last two wagon-loads of produce
were sent to Louisville; and with the aid of the money realized, a few
hundred dollars, John Clemens and his family "flitted out into the great
mysterious blank that lay beyond the Knobs of Tennessee." They had a
two-horse barouche, which would seem to have been preserved out of their
earlier fortunes. The barouche held the parents and the three younger
children, Pamela, Margaret, anal the little boy, Benjamin. There were
also two extra horses, which Orion, now ten, and Jennie, the house-girl,
a slave, rode. This was early in the spring of 1835.

They traveled by the way of their old home at Columbia, and paid a visit
to relatives. At Louisville they embarked on a steamer bound for St.
Louis; thence overland once more through wilderness and solitude into
what was then the Far West, the promised land.

They arrived one evening, and if Florida was not quite all in appearance
that John Clemens had dreamed, it was at least a haven--with John
Quarles, jovial, hospitable, and full of plans. The great Mississippi
was less than fifty miles away. Salt River, with a system of locks and
dams, would certainly become navigable to the Forks, with Florida as its
head of navigation. It was a Sellers fancy, though perhaps it should be
said here that John Quarles was not the chief original of that lovely
character in The Gilded Age. That was another relative--James Lampton, a
cousin--quite as lovable, and a builder of even more insubstantial
dreams.

John Quarles was already established in merchandise in Florida, and was
prospering in a small way. He had also acquired a good farm, which he
worked with thirty slaves, and was probably the rich man and leading
citizen of the community. He offered John Clemens a partnership in his
store, and agreed to aid him in the selection of some land. Furthermore,
he encouraged him to renew his practice of the law. Thus far, at least,
the Florida venture was not a mistake, for, whatever came, matters could
not be worse than they had been in Tennessee.

In a small frame building near the center of the village, John and Jane
Clemens established their household. It was a humble one-story affair,
with two main rooms and a lean-to kitchen, though comfortable enough for
its size, and comparatively new. It is still standing and occupied when
these lines are written, and it should be preserved and guarded as a
shrine for the American people; for it was here that the foremost
American-born author--the man most characteristically American in every
thought and word and action of his life--drew his first fluttering
breath, caught blinkingly the light of a world that in the years to come
would rise up and in its wide realm of letters hail him as a king.

It was on a bleak day, November 30, 1835, that he entered feebly the
domain he was to conquer. Long, afterward, one of those who knew him
best said:

"He always seemed to me like some great being from another planet--never
quite of this race or kind."

He may have been, for a great comet was in the sky that year, and it
would return no more until the day when he should be borne back into the
far spaces of silence and undiscovered suns. But nobody thought of this,
then.

He was a seven-months child, and there was no fanfare of welcome at his
coming. Perhaps it was even suggested that, in a house so small and so
sufficiently filled, there was no real need of his coming at all. One
Polly Ann Buchanan, who is said to have put the first garment of any sort
on him, lived to boast of the fact,--[This honor has been claimed also
for Mrs. Millie Upton and a Mrs. Damrell. Probably all were present and
assisted.]--but she had no particular pride in that matter then. It was
only a puny baby with a wavering promise of life. Still, John Clemens
must have regarded with favor this first gift of fortune in a new land,
for he named the little boy Samuel, after his father, and added the name
of an old and dear Virginia friend, Langhorne. The family fortunes would
seem to have been improving at this time, and he may have regarded the
arrival of another son as a good omen.

With a family of eight, now, including Jennie, the slavegirl, more room
was badly needed, and he began building without delay. The result was
not a mansion, by any means, being still of the one-story pattern, but it
was more commodious than the tiny two-room affair. The rooms were
larger, and there was at least one ell, or extension, for kitchen and
dining-room uses. This house, completed in 1836, occupied by the Clemens
family during the remainder of the years spent in Florida, was often in
later days pointed out as Mark Twain's birthplace. It missed that
distinction by a few months, though its honor was sufficient in having
sheltered his early childhood.--[This house is no longer standing. When
it was torn down several years ago, portions of it were carried off and
manufactured into souvenirs. Mark Twain himself disclaimed it as his
birthplace, and once wrote on a photograph of it: "No, it is too stylish,
it is not my birthplace."]




IV

BEGINNING A LONG JOURNEY

It was not a robust childhood. The new baby managed to go through the
winter--a matter of comment among the family and neighbors. Added
strength came, but slowly; "Little Sam," as they called him, was always
delicate during those early years.

It was a curious childhood, full of weird, fantastic impressions and
contradictory influences, stimulating alike to the imagination and that
embryo philosophy of life which begins almost with infancy. John Clemens
seldom devoted any time to the company of his children. He looked after
their comfort and mental development as well as he could, and gave advice
on occasion. He bought a book now and then--sometimes a picture-book
--and subscribed for Peter Parley's Magazine, a marvel of delight to the
older children, but he did not join in their amusements, and he rarely,
or never, laughed. Mark Twain did not remember ever having seen or heard
his father laugh. The problem of supplying food was a somber one to John
Clemens; also, he was working on a perpetual-motion machine at this
period, which absorbed his spare time, and, to the inventor at least, was
not a mirthful occupation. Jane Clemens was busy, too. Her sense of
humor did not die, but with added cares and years her temper as well as
her features became sharper, and it was just as well to be fairly out of
range when she was busy with her employments.

Little Sam's companions were his brothers and sisters, all older than
himself: Orion, ten years his senior, followed by Pamela and Margaret at
intervals of two and three years, then by Benjamin, a kindly little lad
whose gentle life was chiefly devoted to looking after the baby brother,
three years his junior. But in addition to these associations, there
were the still more potent influences Of that day and section, the
intimate, enveloping institution of slavery, the daily companionship of
the slaves. All the children of that time were fond of the negroes and
confided in them. They would, in fact, have been lost without such
protection and company.

It was Jennie, the house-girl, and Uncle Ned, a man of all work
--apparently acquired with the improved prospects--who were in real
charge of the children and supplied them with entertainment. Wonderful
entertainment it was. That was a time of visions and dreams, small.
gossip and superstitions. Old tales were repeated over and over, with
adornments and improvements suggested by immediate events. At evening
the Clemens children, big and little, gathered about the great open
fireplace while Jennie and Uncle Ned told tales and hair-lifting legends.
Even a baby of two or three years could follow the drift of this
primitive telling and would shiver and cling close with the horror and
delight of its curdling thrill. The tales always began with "Once 'pon a
time," and one of them was the story of the "Golden Arm" which the
smallest listener would one day repeat more elaborately to wider
audiences in many lands. Briefly it ran as follows:

"Once 'Pon a time there was a man, and he had a wife, and she had a' arm
of pure gold; and she died, and they buried her in the graveyard; and one
night her husband went and dug her up and cut off her golden arm and tuck
it home; and one night a ghost all in white come to him; and she was his
wife; and she says:

"W-h-a-r-r's my golden arm? W-h-a-r-r's my golden arm? W-h-a-r-r's my
g-o-l-den arm?"

As Uncle Ned repeated these blood-curdling questions he would look first
one and then another of his listeners in the eyes, with his bands drawn
up in front of his breast, his fingers turned out and crooked like claws,
while he bent with each question closer to the shrinking forms before
him. The tone was sepulchral, with awful pause as if waiting each time
for a reply. The culmination came with a pounce on one of the group, a
shake of the shoulders, and a shout of:

"YOU'VE got it!' and she tore him all to pieces!"

And the children would shout "Lordy!" and look furtively over their
shoulders, fearing to see a woman in white against the black wall; but,
instead, only gloomy, shapeless shadows darted across it as the
flickering flames in the fireplace went out on one brand and flared up on
another. Then there was a story of a great ball of fire that used to
follow lonely travelers along dark roads through the woods.

"Once 'pon a time there was a man, and he was riding along de road and he
come to a ha'nted house, and he heard de chains'a-rattlin' and a-rattlin'
and a-rattlin', and a ball of fire come rollin' up and got under his
stirrup, and it didn't make no difference if his horse galloped or went
slow or stood still, de ball of fire staid under his stirrup till he got
plum to de front do', and his wife come out and say: 'My Gord, dat's
devil fire!' and she had to work a witch spell to drive it away."

"How big was it, Uncle Ned?"

"Oh, 'bout as big as your head, and I 'spect it's likely to come down dis
yere chimney 'most any time."

Certainly an atmosphere like this meant a tropic development for the
imagination of a delicate child. All the games and daily talk concerned
fanciful semi-African conditions and strange primal possibilities. The
children of that day believed in spells and charms and bad-luck signs,
all learned of their negro guardians.

But if the negroes were the chief companions and protectors of the
children, they were likewise one of their discomforts. The greatest real
dread children knew was the fear of meeting runaway slaves. A runaway
slave was regarded as worse than a wild beast, and treated worse when
caught. Once the children saw one brought into Florida by six men who
took him to an empty cabin, where they threw him on the floor and bound
him with ropes. His groans were loud and frequent. Such things made an
impression that would last a lifetime.

Slave punishment, too, was not unknown, even in the household. Jennie
especially was often saucy and obstreperous. Jane Clemens, with more
strength of character than of body, once undertook to punish her for
insolence, whereupon Jennie snatched the whip from her hand. John
Clemens was sent for in haste. He came at once, tied Jennie's wrists
together with a bridle rein, and administered chastisement across the
shoulders with a cowhide. These were things all calculated to impress a
sensitive child.

In pleasant weather the children roamed over the country, hunting berries
and nuts, drinking sugar-water, tying knots in love-vine, picking the
petals from daisies to the formula "Love me-love me not," always
accompanied by one or more, sometimes by half a dozen, of their small
darky followers. Shoes were taken off the first of April. For a time a
pair of old woolen stockings were worn, but these soon disappeared,
leaving the feet bare for the summer. One of their dreads was the
possibility of sticking a rusty nail into the foot, as this was liable to
cause lockjaw, a malady regarded with awe and terror. They knew what
lockjaw was--Uncle John Quarles's black man, Dan, was subject to it.
Sometimes when he opened his mouth to its utmost capacity he felt the
joints slip and was compelled to put down the cornbread, or jole and
greens, or the piece of 'possum he was eating, while his mouth remained a
fixed abyss until the doctor came and restored it to a natural position
by an exertion of muscular power that would have well-nigh lifted an ox.

Uncle John Quarles, his home, his farm, his slaves, all were sources of
never-ending delight. Perhaps the farm was just an ordinary Missouri
farm and the slaves just average negroes, but to those children these
things were never apparent. There was a halo about anything that
belonged to Uncle John Quarles, and that halo was the jovial, hilarious
kindness of that gentle-hearted, humane man. To visit at his house was
for a child to be in a heaven of mirth and pranks continually. When the
children came for eggs he would say:

"Your hens won't lay, eh? Tell your maw to feed 'em parched corn and
drive 'em uphill," and this was always a splendid stroke of humor to his
small hearers.

Also, he knew how to mimic with his empty hands the peculiar patting and
tossing of a pone of corn-bread before placing it in the oven. He would
make the most fearful threats to his own children, for disobedience, but
never executed any of them. When they were out fishing and returned late
he would say:

"You--if I have to hunt you again after dark, I will make you smell like
a burnt horn!"

Nothing could exceed the ferocity of this threat, and all the children,
with delightful terror and curiosity, wondered what would happen--if it
ever did happen--that would result in giving a child that peculiar savor.
Altogether it was a curious early childhood that Little Sam had--at least
it seems so to us now. Doubtless it was commonplace enough for that time
and locality.




V

THE WAY OF FORTUNE

Perhaps John Quarles's jocular, happy-go-lucky nature and general conduct
did not altogether harmonize with John Clemens's more taciturn business
methods. Notwithstanding the fact that he was a builder of dreams,
Clemens was neat and methodical, with his papers always in order. He had
a hearty dislike for anything resembling frivolity and confusion, which
very likely were the chief features of John Quarles's storekeeping. At
all events, they dissolved partnership at the end of two or three years,
and Clemens opened business for himself across the street. He also
practised law whenever there were cases, and was elected justice of the
peace, acquiring the permanent title of "Judge." He needed some one to
assist in the store, and took in Orion, who was by this time twelve or
thirteen years old; but, besides his youth, Orion--all his days a
visionary--was a studious, pensive lad with no taste for commerce. Then
a partnership was formed with a man who developed neither capital nor
business ability, and proved a disaster in the end. The modest tide of
success which had come with John Clemens's establishment at Florida had
begun to wane. Another boy, Henry, born in July, 1838, added one more
responsibility to his burdens.

There still remained a promise of better things. There seemed at least a
good prospect that the scheme for making Salt River navigable was likely
to become operative. With even small boats (bateaux) running as high as
the lower branch of the South Fork, Florida would become an emporium of
trade, and merchants and property-owners of that village would reap a
harvest. An act of the Legislature was passed incorporating the
navigation company, with Judge Clemens as its president. Congress was
petitioned to aid this work of internal improvement. So confident was
the company of success that the hamlet was thrown into a fever of
excitement by the establishment of a boatyard and, the actual
construction of a bateau; but a Democratic Congress turned its back on
the proposed improvement. No boat bigger than a skiff ever ascended Salt
River, though there was a wild report, evidently a hoax, that a party of
picnickers had seen one night a ghostly steamer, loaded and manned,
puffing up the stream. An old Scotchman, Hugh Robinson, when he heard of
it, said:

"I don't doubt a word they say. In Scotland, it often happens that when
people have been killed, or are troubled, they send their spirits abroad
and they are seen as much like themselves as a reflection in a
looking-glass. That was a ghost of some wrecked steamboat."

But John Quarles, who was present, laughed:

"If ever anybody was in trouble, the men on that steamboat were," he
said. "They were the Democratic candidates at the last election. They
killed Salt River improvements, and Salt River has killed them. Their
ghosts went up the river on a ghostly steamboat."

It is possible that this comment, which was widely repeated and traveled
far, was the origin of the term "Going up Salt River," as applied to
defeated political candidates.--[The dictionaries give this phrase as
probably traceable to a small, difficult stream in Kentucky; but it seems
more reasonable to believe that it originated in Quarles's witty
comment.]

No other attempt was ever made to establish navigation on Salt River.
Rumors of railroads already running in the East put an end to any such
thought. Railroads could run anywhere and were probably cheaper and
easier to maintain than the difficult navigation requiring locks and
dams. Salt River lost its prestige as a possible water highway and
became mere scenery. Railroads have ruined greater rivers than the
Little Salt, and greater villages than Florida, though neither Florida
nor Salt River has been touched by a railroad to this day. Perhaps such
close detail of early history may be thought unnecessary in a work of
this kind, but all these things were definite influences in the career of
the little lad whom the world would one day know as Mark Twain.




VI

A NEW HOME

The death of little Margaret was the final misfortune that came to the
Clemens family in Florida. Doubtless it hastened their departure. There
was a superstition in those days that to refer to health as good luck,
rather than to ascribe it to the kindness of Providence, was to bring
about a judgment. Jane Clemens one day spoke to a neighbor of their good
luck in thus far having lost no member of their family. That same day,
when the sisters, Pamela and Margaret, returned from school, Margaret
laid her books on the table, looked in the glass at her flushed cheeks,
pulled out the trundle-bed, and lay down.

She was never in her right mind again. The doctor was sent for and
diagnosed the case "bilious fever." One evening, about nine o'clock,
Orion was sitting on the edge of the trundle-bed by the patient, when the
door opened and Little Sam, then about four years old, walked in from his
bedroom, fast asleep. He came to the side of the trundle-bed and pulled
at the bedding near Margaret's shoulder for some time before he woke.
Next day the little girl was "picking at the coverlet," and it was known
that she could not live. About a week later she died. She was nine
years old, a beautiful child, plump in form, with rosy cheeks, black
hair, and bright eyes. This was in August, 1839. It was Little Sam's
first sight of death--the first break in the Clemens family: it left a
sad household. The shoemaker who lived next door claimed to have seen
several weeks previous, in a vision, the coffin and the
funeral-procession pass the gate by the winding road, to the cemetery,
exactly as it happened.

Matters were now going badly enough with John Clemens. Yet he never was
without one great comforting thought--the future of the Tennessee land.
It underlaid every plan; it was an anodyne for every ill.

"When we sell the Tennessee land everything will be all right," was the
refrain that brought solace in the darkest hours. A blessing for him
that this was so, for he had little else to brighten his days.
Negotiations looking to the sale of the land were usually in progress.
When the pressure became very hard and finances were at their lowest ebb,
it was offered at any price--at five cents an acre, sometimes. When
conditions improved, however little, the price suddenly advanced even to
its maximum of one thousand dollars an acre. Now and then a genuine
offer came along, but, though eagerly welcomed at the moment, it was
always refused after a little consideration.

"We will struggle along somehow, Jane," he would say. "We will not throw
away the children's fortune."

There was one other who believed in the Tennessee land--Jane Clemens's
favorite cousin, James Lampton, the courtliest, gentlest, most prodigal
optimist of all that guileless race. To James Lampton the land always
had "millions in it"--everything had. He made stupendous fortunes daily,
in new ways. The bare mention of the Tennessee land sent him off into
figures that ended with the purchase of estates in England adjoining
those of the Durham Lamptons, whom he always referred to as "our
kindred," casually mentioning the whereabouts and health of the "present
earl." Mark Twain merely put James Lampton on paper when he created
Colonel Sellers, and the story of the Hawkins family as told in The
Gilded Age reflects clearly the struggle of those days. The words
"Tennessee land," with their golden promise, became his earliest
remembered syllables. He grew to detest them in time, for they came to
mean mockery.

One of the offers received was the trifling sum of two hundred and fifty
dollars, and such was the moment's need that even this was considered.
Then, of course, it was scornfully refused. In some autobiographical
chapters which Orion Clemens left behind he said:

"If we had received that two hundred and fifty dollars, it would have
been more than we ever made, clear of expenses, out of the whole of the
Tennessee land, after forty years of worry to three generations."

What a less speculative and more logical reasoner would have done in the
beginning, John Clemens did now; he selected a place which, though little
more than a village, was on a river already navigable--a steamboat town
with at least the beginnings of manufacturing and trade already
established--that is to say, Hannibal, Missouri--a point well chosen, as
shown by its prosperity to-day.

He did not delay matters. When he came to a decision, he acted quickly.
He disposed of a portion of his goods and shipped the remainder overland;
then, with his family and chattels loaded in a wagon, he was ready to set
out for the new home. Orion records that, for some reason, his father
did not invite him to get into the wagon, and how, being always sensitive
to slight, he had regarded this in the light of deliberate desertion.

"The sense of abandonment caused my heart to ache. The wagon had gone a
few feet when I was discovered and invited to enter. How I wished they
had not missed me until they had arrived at Hannibal. Then the world
would have seen how I was treated and would have cried 'Shame!'"

This incident, noted and remembered, long after became curiously confused
with another, in Mark Twain's mind. In an autobiographical chapter
published in The North American Review he tells of the move to Hannibal
and relates that he himself was left behind by his absentminded family.
The incident of his own abandonment did not happen then, but later, and
somewhat differently. It would indeed be an absent-minded family if the
parents, and the sister and brothers ranging up to fourteen years of age,
should drive off leaving Little Sam, age four, behind.

--[As mentioned in the Prefatory Note, Mark Twain's memory played him
many tricks in later life. Incidents were filtered through his vivid
imagination until many of them bore little relation to the actual
occurrence. Some of these lapses were only amusing, but occasionally
they worked an unintentional injustice. It is the author's purpose in
every instance, so far as is possible, to keep the record straight.]




VII

THE LITTLE TOWN OF HANNIBAL

Hannibal in 1839 was already a corporate community and had an atmosphere
of its own. It was a town with a distinct Southern flavor, though rather
more astir than the true Southern community of that period; more Western
in that it planned, though without excitement, certain new enterprises
and made a show, at least, of manufacturing. It was somnolent (a slave
town could not be less than that), but it was not wholly asleep--that is
to say, dead--and it was tranquilly content. Mark Twain remembered it as
"the white town drowsing in the sunshine of a summer morning, . . . the
great Mississippi, the magnificent Mississippi, rolling its mile-wide
tide along; . . . the dense forest away on the other side."

The little city was proud of its scenery, and justly so: circled with
bluffs, with Holliday's Hill on the north, Lover's Leap on the south, the
shining river in the foreground, there was little to be desired in the
way of setting.

The river, of course, was the great highway. Rafts drifted by;
steamboats passed up and down and gave communication to the outside
world; St. Louis, the metropolis, was only one hundred miles away.
Hannibal was inclined to rank itself as of next importance, and took on
airs accordingly. It had society, too--all kinds--from the negroes and
the town drunkards ("General" Gaines and Jimmy Finn; later, Old Ben
Blankenship) up through several nondescript grades of mechanics and
tradesmen to the professional men of the community, who wore tall hats,
ruffled shirt-fronts, and swallow-tail coats, usually of some positive
color-blue, snuff-brown, and green. These and their families constituted
the true aristocracy of the Southern town. Most of them had pleasant
homes--brick or large frame mansions, with colonnaded entrances, after
the manner of all Southern architecture of that period, which had an
undoubted Greek root, because of certain drawing-books, it is said,
accessible to the builders of those days. Most of them, also, had means
--slaves and land which yielded an income in addition to their
professional earnings. They lived in such style as was considered
fitting to their rank, and had such comforts as were then obtainable.

It was to this grade of society that judge Clemens and his family
belonged, but his means no longer enabled him to provide either the
comforts or the ostentation of his class. He settled his family and
belongings in a portion of a house on Hill Street--the Pavey Hotel; his
merchandise he established modestly on Main Street, with Orion, in a new
suit of clothes, as clerk. Possibly the clothes gave Orion a renewed
ambition for mercantile life, but this waned. Business did not begin
actively, and he was presently dreaming and reading away the time. A
little later he became a printer's apprentice, in the office of the
Hannibal Journal, at his father's suggestion.

Orion Clemens perhaps deserves a special word here. He was to be much
associated with his more famous brother for many years, and his
personality as boy and man is worth at least a casual consideration. He
was fifteen now, and had developed characteristics which in a greater or
less degree were to go with him through life. Of a kindly, loving
disposition, like all of the Clemens children, quick of temper, but
always contrite, or forgiving, he was never without the fond regard of
those who knew him best. His weaknesses were manifold, but, on the
whole, of a negative kind. Honorable and truthful, he had no tendency to
bad habits or unworthy pursuits; indeed, he had no positive traits of any
sort. That was his chief misfortune. Full of whims and fancies,
unstable, indeterminate, he was swayed by every passing emotion and
influence. Daily he laid out a new course of study and achievement, only
to fling it aside because of some chance remark or printed paragraph or
bit of advice that ran contrary to his purpose. Such a life is bound to
be a succession of extremes--alternate periods of supreme exaltation and
despair. In his autobiographical chapters, already mentioned, Orion sets
down every impulse and emotion and failure with that faithful humility
which won him always the respect, if not always the approval, of men.

Printing was a step downward, for it was a trade, and Orion felt it
keenly. A gentleman's son and a prospective heir of the Tennessee land,
he was entitled to a profession. To him it was punishment, and the
disgrace weighed upon him. Then he remembered that Benjamin Franklin had
been a printer and had eaten only an apple and a bunch of grapes for his
dinner. Orion decided to emulate Franklin, and for a time he took only a
biscuit and a glass of water at a meal, foreseeing the day when he should
electrify the world with his eloquence. He was surprised to find how
clear his mind was on this low diet and how rapidly he learned his trade.

Of the other children Pamela, now twelve, and Benjamin, seven, were put
to school. They were pretty, attractive children, and Henry, the baby,
was a sturdy toddler, the pride of the household. Little Sam was the
least promising of the flock. He remained delicate, and developed little
beyond a tendency to pranks. He was a queer, fanciful, uncommunicative
child that detested indoors and would run away if not watched--always in
the direction of the river. He walked in his sleep, too, and often the
rest of the household got up in the middle of the night to find him
fretting with cold in some dark corner. The doctor was summoned for him
oftener than was good for the family purse--or for him, perhaps, if we
may credit the story of heavy dosings of those stern allopathic days.

Yet he would appear not to have been satisfied with his heritage of
ailments, and was ambitious for more. An epidemic of measles--the black,
deadly kind--was ravaging Hannibal, and he yearned for the complaint. He
yearned so much that when he heard of a playmate, one of the Bowen boys,
who had it, he ran away and, slipping into the house, crept into bed with
the infection. The success of this venture was complete. Some days
later, the Clemens family gathered tearfully around Little Sam's bed to
see him die. According to his own after-confession, this gratified him,
and he was willing to die for the glory of that touching scene. However,
he disappointed them, and was presently up and about in search of fresh
laurels.--[In later life Mr. Clemens did not recollect the precise period
of this illness. With habitual indifference he assigned it to various
years, as his mood or the exigencies of his theme required. Without doubt
the "measles" incident occurred when he was very young.]--He must have
been a wearing child, and we may believe that Jane Clemens, with her
varied cares and labors, did not always find him a comfort.

"You gave me more uneasiness than any child I had," she said to him once,
in her old age.

"I suppose you were afraid I wouldn't live," he suggested, in his
tranquil fashion.

She looked at him with that keen humor that had not dulled in eighty
years. "No; afraid you would," she said. But that was only her joke,
for she was the most tenderhearted creature in the world, and, like
mothers in general, had a weakness for the child that demanded most of
her mother's care.

It was mainly on his account that she spent her summers on John Quarles's
farm near Florida, and it was during the first summer that an incident
already mentioned occurred. It was decided that the whole family should
go for a brief visit, and one Saturday morning in June Mrs. Clemens, with
the three elder children and the baby, accompanied by Jennie, the
slave-girl, set out in a light wagon for the day's drive, leaving Judge
Clemens to bring Little Sam on horseback Sunday morning. The hour was
early when Judge Clemens got up to saddle his horse, and Little Sam was
still asleep. The horse being ready, Clemens, his mind far away, mounted
and rode off without once remembering the little boy, and in the course
of the afternoon arrived at his brother-in-law's farm. Then he was
confronted by Jane Clemens, who demanded Little Sam.

"Why," said the judge, aghast, "I never once thought of him after I left
him asleep."

Wharton Lampton, a brother of Jane Clemens and Patsey Quarles, hastily
saddled a horse and set out, helter-skelter, for Hannibal. He arrived in
the early dusk. The child was safe enough, but he was crying with
loneliness and hunger. He had spent most of the day in the locked,
deserted house playing with a hole in the meal-sack where the meal ran
out, when properly encouraged, in a tiny stream. He was fed and
comforted, and next day was safe on the farm, which during that summer
and those that followed it, became so large a part of his boyhood and
lent a coloring to his later years.




VIII

THE FARM

We have already mentioned the delight of the Clemens children in Uncle
John Quarles's farm. To Little Sam it was probably a life-saver. With
his small cousin, Tabitha,--[Tabitha Quarles, now Mrs. Greening, of
Palmyra, Missouri, has supplied most of the material for this chapter.]
--just his own age (they called her Puss), he wandered over that magic
domain, fording new marvels at every step, new delights everywhere. A
slave-girl, Mary, usually attended them, but she was only six years
older, and not older at all in reality, so she was just a playmate, and
not a guardian to be feared or evaded. Sometimes, indeed, it was
necessary for her to threaten to tell "Miss Patsey" or "Miss Jane," when
her little charges insisted on going farther or staying later than she
thought wise from the viewpoint of her own personal safety; but this was
seldom, and on the whole a stay at the farm was just one long idyllic
dream of summer-time and freedom.

The farm-house stood in the middle of a large yard entered by a stile
made of sawed-off logs of graduated heights. In the corner of the yard
were hickory trees, and black walnut, and beyond the fence the hill fell
away past the barns, the corn-cribs, and the tobacco-house to a brook--a
divine place to wade, with deep, dark, forbidden pools. Down in the
pasture there were swings under the big trees, and Mary swung the
children and ran under them until their feet touched the branches, and
then took her turn and "balanced" herself so high that their one wish was
to be as old as Mary and swing in that splendid way. All the woods were
full of squirrels--gray squirrels and the red-fox species--and many birds
and flowers; all the meadows were gay with clover and butterflies, and
musical with singing grasshoppers and calling larks; there were
blackberries in the fence rows, apples and peaches in the orchard, and
watermelons in the corn. They were not always ripe, those watermelons,
and once, when Little Sam had eaten several pieces of a green one, he was
seized with cramps so severe that most of the household expected him to
die forthwith.

Jane Clemens was not heavily concerned.

"Sammy will pull through," she said; "he wasn't born to die that way."

It is the slender constitution that bears the strain. "Sammy" did pull
through, and in a brief time was ready for fresh adventure.

There were plenty of these: there were the horses to ride to and from the
fields; the ox-wagons to ride in when they had dumped their heavy loads;
the circular horsepower to ride on when they threshed the wheat. This
last was a dangerous and forbidden pleasure, but the children would dart
between the teams and climb on, and the slave who was driving would
pretend not to see. Then in the evening when the black woman came along,
going after the cows, the children would race ahead and set the cows
running and jingling their bells--especially Little Sam, for he was a
wild-headed, impetuous child of sudden ecstasies that sent him capering
and swinging his arms, venting his emotions in a series of leaps and
shrieks and somersaults, and spasms of laughter as he lay rolling in the
grass.

His tendency to mischief grew with this wide liberty, improved health,
and the encouragement of John Quarles's good-natured, fun-loving slaves.

The negro quarters beyond the orchard were especially attractive. In one
cabin lived a bed-ridden, white-headed old woman whom the children
visited daily and looked upon with awe; for she was said to be a thousand
years old and to have talked with Moses. The negroes believed this; the
children, too, of course, and that she had lost her health in the desert,
coming out of Egypt. The bald spot on her head was caused by fright at
seeing Pharaoh drowned. She also knew how to avert spells and ward off
witches, which added greatly to her prestige. Uncle Dan'l was a
favorite, too-kind-hearted and dependable, while his occasional lockjaw
gave him an unusual distinction. Long afterward he would become Nigger
Jim in the Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn tales, and so in his gentle
guilelessness win immortality and the love of many men.

Certainly this was a heavenly place for a little boy, the farm of Uncle
John Quarles, and the house was as wonderful as its surroundings. It was
a two-story double log building, with a spacious floor (roofed in)
connecting the two divisions. In the summer the table was set in the
middle of that shady, breezy pavilion, and sumptuous meals were served in
the lavish Southern style, brought to the table in vast dishes that left
only room for rows of plates around the edge. Fried chicken, roast pig,
turkeys, ducks, geese, venison just killed, squirrels, rabbits,
partridges, pheasants, prairie-chickens--the list is too long to be
served here. If a little boy could not improve on that bill of fare and
in that atmosphere, his case was hopeless indeed. His mother kept him
there until the late fall, when the chilly evenings made them gather
around the wide, blazing fireplace. Sixty years later he wrote of that
scene:

    I can see the room yet with perfect clearness. I can see all its
    buildings, all its details: the family-room of the house, with the
    trundle-bed in one corner and the spinning-wheel in another a wheel
    whose rising and falling wail, heard from a distance, was the
    mournfulest of all sounds to me, and made me homesick and low-
    spirited, and filled my atmosphere with the wandering spirits of the
    dead; the vast fireplace, piled high with flaming logs, from whose
    ends a sugary sap bubbled out, but did not go to waste, for we
    scraped it off and ate it; . . . the lazy cat spread out on the
    rough hearthstones, the drowsy dogs braced against the jambs,
    blinking; my aunt in one chimney-corner and my uncle in the other
    smoking his corn-cob pipe; the slick and carpetless oak floor
    faintly mirroring the flame tongues, and freckled with black
    indentations where fire-coals had popped out and died a leisurely
    death; half a dozen children romping in the background twilight;
    splint-bottom chairs here and there--some with rockers; a cradle
    --out of service, but waiting with confidence.

One is tempted to dwell on this period, to quote prodigally from these
vivid memories--the thousand minute impressions which the child's
sensitive mind acquired in that long-ago time and would reveal everywhere
in his work in the years to come. For him it was education of a more
valuable and lasting sort than any he would ever acquire from books.




IX

SCHOOL-DAYS

Nevertheless, on his return to Hannibal, it was decided that Little Sam
was now ready to go to school. He was about five years old, and the
months on the farm had left him wiry and lively, even if not very robust.
His mother declared that he gave her more trouble than all the other
children put together.

"He drives me crazy with his didoes, when he is in the house," she used
to say; "and when he is out of it I am expecting every minute that some
one will bring him home half dead."

He did, in fact, achieve the first of his "nine narrow escapes from
drowning" about this time, and was pulled out of the river one afternoon
and brought home in a limp and unpromising condition. When with mullein
tea and castor-oil she had restored him to activity, she said: "I guess
there wasn't much danger. People born to be hanged are safe in water."

She declared she was willing to pay somebody to take him off her hands
for a part of each day and try to teach him manners. Perhaps this is a
good place to say that Jane Clemens was the original of Tom Sawyer's
"Aunt Polly," and her portrait as presented in that book is considered
perfect. Kind-hearted, fearless, looking and acting ten years older than
her age, as women did in that time, always outspoken and sometimes
severe, she was regarded as a "character" by her friends, and beloved by
them as, a charitable, sympathetic woman whom it was good to know. Her
sense of pity was abnormal. She refused to kill even flies, and punished
the cat for catching mice. She, would drown the young kittens, when
necessary, but warmed the water for the purpose. On coming to Hannibal,
she joined the Presbyterian Church, and her religion was of that
clean-cut, strenuous kind which regards as necessary institutions hell
and Satan, though she had been known to express pity for the latter for
being obliged to surround himself with such poor society. Her children
she directed with considerable firmness, and all were tractable and
growing in grace except Little Sam. Even baby Henry at two was lisping
the prayers that Sam would let go by default unless carefully guarded.
His sister Pamela, who was eight years older and always loved him dearly,
usually supervised these spiritual exercises, and in her gentle care
earned immortality as the Cousin Mary of Tom Sawyer. He would say his
prayers willingly enough when encouraged by sister Pamela, but he much
preferred to sit up in bed and tell astonishing tales of the day's
adventure--tales which made prayer seem a futile corrective and caused
his listeners to wonder why the lightning was restrained so long. They
did not know they were glimpsing the first outcroppings of a genius that
would one day amaze and entertain the nations. Neighbors hearing of
these things (also certain of his narrations) remonstrated with Mrs.
Clemens.

"You don't believe anything that child says, I hope."

"Oh yes, I know his average. I discount him ninety per cent. The rest
is pure gold." At another time she said: "Sammy is a well of truth, but
you can't bring it all up in one bucket."

This, however, is digression; the incidents may have happened somewhat
later.

A certain Miss E. Horr was selected to receive the payment for taking
charge of Little Sam during several hours each day, directing him
mentally and morally in the mean time. Her school was then in a log
house on Main Street (later it was removed to Third Street), and was of
the primitive old-fashioned kind, with pupils of all ages, ranging in
advancement from the primer to the third reader, from the tables to long
division, with a little geography and grammar and a good deal of
spelling. Long division and the third reader completed the curriculum in
that school. Pupils who decided to take a post-graduate course went to a
Mr. Cross, who taught in a frame house on the hill facing what is now the
Public Square.

Miss Horr received twenty-five cents a week for each pupil, and opened
her school with prayer; after which came a chapter of the Bible, with
explanations, and the rules of conduct. Then the A B C class was called,
because their recital was a hand-to-hand struggle, requiring no
preparation.

The rules of conduct that first day interested Little Sam. He calculated
how much he would need to trim in, to sail close to the danger-line and
still avoid disaster. He made a miscalculation during the forenoon and
received warning; a second offense would mean punishment. He did not
mean to be caught the second time, but he had not learned Miss Horr yet,
and was presently startled by being commanded to go out and bring a stick
for his own correction.

This was certainly disturbing. It was sudden, and then he did not know
much about the selection of sticks. Jane Clemens had usually used her
hand. It required a second command to get him headed in the right
direction, and he was a trifle dazed when he got outside. He had the
forests of Missouri to select from, but choice was difficult. Everything
looked too big and competent. Even the smallest switch had a wiry,
discouraging look. Across the way was a cooper-shop with a good many
shavings outside.

One had blown across and lay just in front of him. It was an
inspiration. He picked it up and, solemnly entering the school-room,
meekly handed it to Miss Herr.

Perhaps Miss Horr's sense of humor prompted forgiveness, but discipline
must be maintained.

"Samuel Langhorne Clemens," she said (he had never heard it all strung
together in that ominous way), "I am ashamed of you! Jimmy Dunlap, go
and bring a switch for Sammy." And Jimmy Dunlap went, and the switch was
of a sort to give the little boy an immediate and permanent distaste for
school. He informed his mother when he went home at noon that he did not
care for school; that he had no desire to be a great man; that he
preferred to be a pirate or an Indian and scalp or drown such people as
Miss Horr. Down in her heart his mother was sorry for him, but what she
said was that she was glad there was somebody at last who could take him
in hand.

He returned to school, but he never learned to like it. Each morning he
went with reluctance and remained with loathing--the loathing which he
always had for anything resembling bondage and tyranny or even the
smallest curtailment of liberty. A School was ruled with a rod in those
days, a busy and efficient rod, as the Scripture recommended. Of the
smaller boys Little Sam's back was sore as often as the next, and he
dreamed mainly of a day when, grown big and fierce, he would descend with
his band and capture Miss Horr and probably drag her by the hair, as he
had seen Indians and pirates do in the pictures. When the days of early
summer came again; when from his desk he could see the sunshine lighting
the soft green of Holliday's Hill, with the purple distance beyond, and
the glint of the river, it seemed to him that to be shut up with a
Webster's spelling-book and a cross old maid was more than human nature
could bear. Among the records preserved from that far-off day there
remains a yellow slip, whereon in neat old-fashioned penmanship is
inscribed:

                  MISS PAMELA CLEMENS

    Has won the love of her teacher and schoolmates by her amiable
    deportment and faithful application to her various studies.
                                   E. Horr, Teacher.

If any such testimonial was ever awarded to Little Sam, diligent search
has failed to reveal it. If he won the love of his teacher and playmates
it was probably for other reasons.

Yet he must have learned, somehow, for he could read presently and was
soon regarded as a good speller for his years. His spelling came as a
natural gift, as did most of his attainments, then and later.

It has already been mentioned that Miss Horr opened her school with
prayer and Scriptural readings. Little Sam did not especially delight in
these things, but he respected them. Not to do so was dangerous. Flames
were being kept brisk for little boys who were heedless of sacred
matters; his home teaching convinced him of that. He also respected Miss
Horr as an example of orthodox faith, and when she read the text "Ask and
ye shall receive" and assured them that whoever prayed for a thing
earnestly, his prayer would be answered, he believed it. A small
schoolmate, the balker's daughter, brought gingerbread to school every
morning, and Little Sam was just "honing" for some of it. He wanted a
piece of that baker's gingerbread more than anything else in the world,
and he decided to pray for it.

The little girl sat in front of him, but always until that morning had
kept the gingerbread out of sight. Now, however, when he finished his
prayer and looked up, a small morsel of the precious food lay in front of
him. Perhaps the little girl could no longer stand that hungry look in
his eyes. Possibly she had heard his petition; at all events his prayer
bore fruit and his faith at that moment would have moved Holliday's Hill.
He decided to pray for everything he wanted, but when he tried the
gingerbread supplication next morning it had no result. Grieved, but
still unshaken, he tried next morning again; still no gingerbread; and
when a third and fourth effort left him hungry he grew despairing and
silent, and wore the haggard face of doubt. His mother said:

"What's the matter, Sammy; are you sick?"

"No," he said, "but I don't believe in saying prayers any more, and I'm
never going to do it again."

"Why, Sammy, what in the world has happened?" she asked, anxiously. Then
he broke down and cried on her lap and told her, for it was a serious
thing in that day openly to repudiate faith. Jane Clemens gathered him
to her heart and comforted him.

"I'll make you a whole pan of gingerbread, better than that," she said,
"and school will soon be out, too, and you can go back to Uncle John's
farm."

And so passed and ended Little Sam's first school-days.




X

EARLY VICISSITUDE AND SORROW

Prosperity came laggingly enough to the Clemens household. The year 1840
brought hard times: the business venture paid little or no return; law
practice was not much more remunerative. Judge Clemens ran for the
office of justice of the peace and was elected, but fees were neither
large nor frequent. By the end of the year it became necessary to part
with Jennie, the slave-girl--a grief to all of them, for they were fond
of her in spite of her wilfulness, and she regarded them as "her family."
She was tall, well formed, nearly black, and brought a good price. A
Methodist minister in Hannibal sold a negro child at the same time to
another minister who took it to his home farther South. As the steamboat
moved away from the landing the child's mother stood at the water's edge,
shrieking her anguish. We are prone to consider these things harshly
now, when slavery has been dead for nearly half a century, but it was a
sacred institution then, and to sell a child from its mother was little
more than to sell to-day a calf from its lowing dam. One could be sorry,
of course, in both instances, but necessity or convenience are matters
usually considered before sentiment. Mark Twain once said of his mother:

"Kind-hearted and compassionate as she was, I think she was not conscious
that slavery was a bald, grotesque, and unwarranted usurpation. She had
never heard it assailed in any pulpit, but had heard it defended and
sanctified in a thousand. As far as her experience went, the wise, the
good, and the holy were unanimous in the belief that slavery was right,
righteous, sacred, the peculiar pet of the Deity, and a condition which
the slave himself ought to be daily and nightly thankful for."

Yet Jane Clemens must have had qualms at times--vague, unassembled doubts
that troubled her spirit. After Jennie was gone a little black chore-boy
was hired from his owner, who had bought him on the east shore of
Maryland and brought him to that remote Western village, far from family
and friends.

He was a cheery spirit in spite of that, and gentle, but very noisy. All
day he went about singing, whistling, and whooping until his noise became
monotonous, maddening. One day Little Sam said:

"Ma--[that was the Southern term]--make Sandy stop singing all the time.
It's awful."

Tears suddenly came into his mother's eyes.

"Poor thing! He is sold away from his home. When he sings it shows
maybe he is not remembering. When he's still I am afraid he is thinking,
and I can't bear it."

Yet any one in that day who advanced the idea of freeing the slaves was
held in abhorrence. An abolitionist was something to despise, to stone
out of the community. The children held the name in horror, as belonging
to something less than human; something with claws, perhaps, and a tail.

The money received for the sale of Jennie made judge Clemens easier for a
time. Business appears to have improved, too, and he was tided through
another year during which he seems to have made payments on an expensive
piece of real estate on Hill and Main streets. This property, acquired
in November, 1839, meant the payment of some seven thousand dollars, and
was a credit purchase, beyond doubt. It was well rented, but the tenants
did not always pay; and presently a crisis came--a descent of creditors
--and John: Clemens at forty-four found himself without business and
without means. He offered everything--his cow, his household furniture,
even his forks and spoons--to his creditors, who protested that he must
not strip himself. They assured him that they admired his integrity so
much they would aid him to resume business; but when he went to St. Louis
to lay in a stock of goods he was coldly met, and the venture came to
nothing.

He now made a trip to Tennessee in the hope of collecting some old debts
and to raise money on the Tennessee land. He took along a negro man
named Charlie, whom he probably picked up for a small sum, hoping to make
something through his disposal in a better market. The trip was another
failure. The man who owed him a considerable sum of money was solvent,
but pleaded hard times:

    It seems so very hard upon him--[John Clemens wrote home]--to pay
    such a sum that I could not have the conscience to hold him to it.
    . . I still have Charlie. The highest price I had offered for him
    in New Orleans was $50, in Vicksburg $40. After performing the
    journey to Tennessee, I expect to sell him for whatever he will
    bring.

    I do not know what I can commence for a business in the spring. My
    brain is constantly on the rack with the study, and I can't relieve
    myself of it. The future, taking its completion from the state of
    my health or mind, is alternately beaming in sunshine or over-
    shadowed with clouds; but mostly cloudy, as you may suppose. I want
    bodily exercise--some constant and active employment, in the first
    place; and, in the next place, I want to be paid for it, if
    possible.

This letter is dated January 7, 1842. He returned without any financial
success, and obtained employment for a time in a commission-house on the
levee. The proprietor found some fault one day, and Judge Clemens walked
out of the premises. On his way home he stopped in a general store, kept
by a man named Sehns, to make some purchases. When he asked that these
be placed on account, Selms hesitated. Judge Clemens laid down a
five-dollar gold piece, the last money he possessed in the world, took
the goods, and never entered the place again.

When Jane Clemens reproached him for having made the trip to Tennessee,
at a cost of two hundred dollars, so badly needed at this time, he only
replied gently that he had gone for what he believed to be the best.

"I am not able to dig in the streets," he added, and Orion, who records
this, adds:

"I can see yet the hopeless expression of his face."

During a former period of depression, such as this, death had come into
the Clemens home. It came again now. Little Benjamin, a sensitive,
amiable boy of ten, one day sickened, and died within a week, May 12,
1842. He was a favorite child and his death was a terrible blow. Little
Sam long remembered the picture of his parents' grief; and Orion recalls
that they kissed each other, something hitherto unknown.

Judge Clemens went back to his law and judicial practice. Mrs. Clemens
decided to take a few boarders. Orion, by this time seventeen and a very
good journeyman printer, obtained a place in St. Louis to aid in the
family support.

The tide of fortune having touched low-water mark, the usual gentle stage
of improvement set in. Times grew better in Hannibal after those first
two or three years; legal fees became larger and more frequent. Within
another two years judge Clemens appears to have been in fairly hopeful
circumstances again--able at least to invest some money in silkworm
culture and lose it, also to buy a piano for Pamela, and to build a
modest house on the Hill Street property, which a rich St. Louis cousin,
James Clemens, had preserved for him. It was the house which is known
today as the "Mark Twain Home."--['This house, in 1911, was bought by Mr.
and Mrs. George A. Mahan, and presented to Hannibal for a memorial
museum.]--Near it, toward the corner of Main Street, was his office, and
here he dispensed law and justice in a manner which, if it did not bring
him affluence, at least won for him the respect of the entire community.
One example will serve:

Next to his office was a stone-cutter's shop. One day the proprietor,
Dave Atkinson, got into a muss with one "Fighting" MacDonald, and there
was a tremendous racket. Judge Clemens ran out and found the men down,
punishing each other on the pavement.

"I command the peace!" he shouted, as he came up to them.

No one paid the least attention.

"I command the peace!" he shouted again, still louder, but with no
result.

A stone-cutter's mallet lay there, handy. Judge Clemens seized it and,
leaning over the combatants, gave the upper one, MacDonald, a smart blow
on the head.

"I command the peace!" he said, for the third time, and struck a
considerably smarter blow.

That settled it. The second blow was of the sort that made MacDonald
roll over, and peace ensued. Judge Clemens haled both men into his
court, fined them, and collected his fee. Such enterprise in the cause
of justice deserved prompt reward.




XI

DAYS OF EDUCATION

The Clemens family had made one or two moves since its arrival in
Hannibal, but the identity of these temporary residences and the period
of occupation of each can no longer be established. Mark Twain once
said:

"In 1843 my father caught me in a lie. It is not this fact that gives me
the date, but the house we lived in. We were there only a year."

We may believe it was the active result of that lie that fixed his memory
of the place, for his father seldom punished him. When he did, it was a
thorough and satisfactory performance.

It was about the period of moving into the new house (1844) that the Tom
Sawyer days--that is to say, the boyhood of Samuel Clemens--may be said
to have begun. Up to that time he was just Little Sam, a child--wild,
and mischievous, often exasperating, but still a child--a delicate little
lad to be worried over, mothered, or spanked and put to bed. Now, at
nine, he had acquired health, with a sturdy ability to look out for
himself, as boys will, in a community like that, especially where the
family is rather larger than the income and there is still a younger
child to claim a mother's protecting care. So "Sam," as they now called
him, "grew up" at nine, and was full of knowledge for his years. Not
that he was old in spirit or manner--he was never that, even to his
death--but he had learned a great number of things, mostly of a kind not
acquired at school.

They were not always of a pleasant kind; they were likely to be of a kind
startling to a boy, even terrifying. Once Little Sam--he was still
Little Sam, then--saw an old man shot down on the main street, at
noonday. He saw them carry him home, lay him on the bed, and spread on
his breast an open family Bible which looked as heavy as an anvil. He
though, if he could only drag that great burden away, the poor, old dying
man would not breathe so heavily. He saw a young emigrant stabbed with a
bowie-knife by a drunken comrade, and noted the spurt of life-blood that
followed; he saw two young men try to kill their uncle, one holding him
while the other snapped repeatedly an Allen revolver which failed to go
off. Then there was the drunken rowdy who proposed to raid the
"Welshman's" house one dark threatening night--he saw that, too. A widow
and her one daughter lived there, and the ruffian woke the whole village
with his coarse challenges and obscenities. Sam Clemens and a boon
companion, John Briggs, went up there to look and listen. The man was at
the gate, and the warren were invisible in the shadow of the dark porch.
The boys heard the elder woman's voice warning the man that she had a
loaded gun, and that she would kill him if he stayed where he was. He
replied with a ribald tirade, and she warned that she would count
ten-that if he remained a second longer she would fire. She began slowly
and counted up to five, with him laughing and jeering. At six he grew
silent, but he did not go. She counted on: seven--eight--nine--The boys
watching from the dark roadside felt their hearts stop. There was a long
pause, then the final count, followed a second later by a gush of flame.
The man dropped, his breast riddled. At the same instant the
thunderstorm that had been gathering broke loose. The boys fled wildly,
believing that Satan himself had arrived to claim the lost soul.

Many such instances happened in a town like that in those days. And
there were events incident to slavery. He saw a slave struck down and
killed with a piece of slag for a trifling offense. He saw an
abolitionist attacked by a mob, and they would have lynched him had not a
Methodist minister defended him on a plea that he must be crazy. He did
not remember, in later years, that he had ever seen a slave auction, but
he added:

"I am suspicious that it is because the thing was a commonplace
spectacle, and not an uncommon or impressive one. I do vividly remember
seeing a dozen black men and women chained together lying in a group on
the pavement, waiting shipment to a Southern slave-market. They had the
saddest faces I ever saw."

It is not surprising that a boy would gather a store of human knowledge
amid such happenings as these. They were wild, disturbing things. They
got into his dreams and made him fearful when he woke in the middle of
the night. He did not then regard them as an education. In some vague
way he set them down as warnings, or punishments, designed to give him a
taste for a better life. He felt that it was his own conscience that
made these things torture him. That was his mother's idea, and he had a
high respect for her moral opinions, also for her courage. Among other
things, he had seen her one day defy a vicious devil of a Corsican--a
common terror in the town-who was chasing his grown daughter with a heavy
rope in his hand, declaring he would wear it out on her. Cautious
citizens got out of her way, but Jane Clemens opened her door wide to the
refugee, and then, instead of rushing in and closing it, spread her arms
across it, barring the way. The man swore and threatened her with the
rope, but she did not flinch or show any sign of fear. She stood there
and shamed him and derided him and defied him until he gave up the rope
and slunk off, crestfallen and conquered. Any one who could do that must
have a perfect conscience, Sam thought. In the fearsome darkness he
would say his prayers, especially when a thunderstorm was coming, and vow
to begin a better life in the morning. He detested Sunday-school as much
as day-school, and once Orion, who was moral and religious, had
threatened to drag him there by the collar; but as the thunder got louder
Sam decided that he loved Sunday-school and would go the next Sunday
without being invited.

Fortunately there were pleasanter things than these. There were picnics
sometimes, and ferry-boat excursions. Once there was a great
Fourth-of-July celebration at which it was said a real Revolutionary
soldier was to be present. Some one had discovered him living alone
seven or eight miles in the country. But this feature proved a
disappointment; for when the day came and he was triumphantly brought in
he turned out to be a Hessian, and was allowed to walk home.

The hills and woods around Hannibal where, with his playmates, he roamed
almost at will were never disappointing. There was the cave with its
marvels; there was Bear Creek, where, after repeated accidents, he had
learned to swim. It had cost him heavily to learn to swim. He had seen
two playmates drown; also, time and again he had, himself, been dragged
ashore more dead than alive, once by a slave-girl, another time by a
slaveman--Neal Champ, of the Pavey Hotel. In the end he had conquered;
he could swim better than any boy in town of his age.

It was the river that meant more to him than all the rest. Its charm was
permanent. It was the path of adventure, the gateway to the world. The
river with its islands, its great slow-moving rafts, its marvelous
steamboats that were like fairyland, its stately current swinging to the
sea! He would sit by it for hours and dream. He would venture out on it
in a surreptitiously borrowed boat when he was barely strong enough to
lift an oar out of the water. He learned to know all its moods and
phases. He felt its kinship. In some occult way he may have known it as
his prototype--that resistless tide of life with its ever-changing sweep,
its shifting shores, its depths, its shadows, its gorgeous sunset hues,
its solemn and tranquil entrance to the sea.

His hunger for the life aboard the steamers became a passion. To be even
the humblest employee of one of those floating enchantments would be
enough; to be an officer would be to enter heaven; to be a pilot was to
be a god.

"You can hardly imagine what it meant," he reflected once, "to a boy in
those days, shut in as we were, to see those steamboats pass up and down,
and never to take a trip on them."

He had reached the mature age of nine when he could endure this no
longer. One day, when the big packet came down and stopped at Hannibal,
he slipped aboard and crept under one of the boats on the upper deck.
Presently the signal-bells rang, the steamboat backed away and swung into
midstream; he was really going at last. He crept from beneath the boat
and sat looking out over the water and enjoying the scenery. Then it
began to rain--a terrific downpour. He crept back under the boat, but
his legs were outside, and one of the crew saw him. So he was taken down
into the cabin and at the next stop set ashore. It was the town of
Louisiana, and there were Lampton relatives there who took him home. Jane
Clemens declared that his father had got to take him in hand; which he
did, doubtless impressing the adventure on him in the usual way. These
were all educational things; then there was always the farm, where
entertainment was no longer a matter of girl-plays and swings, with a
colored nurse following about, but of manlier sports with his older boy
cousins, who had a gun and went hunting with the men for squirrels and
partridges by day, for coons and possums by night. Sometimes the little
boy had followed the hunters all night long and returned with them
through the sparkling and fragrant morning fresh, hungry, and triumphant
just in time for breakfast.

So it is no wonder that at nine he was no longer "Little Sam," but Sam
Clemens, quite mature and self-dependent, with a wide knowledge of men
and things and a variety of accomplishments. He had even learned to
smoke--a little--out there on the farm, and had tried tobacco-chewing,
though that was a failure. He had been stung to this effort by a big
girl at a school which, with his cousin Puss, he sometimes briefly
attended.

"Do you use terbacker?" the big girl had asked, meaning did he chew it.

"No," he said, abashed at the confession.

"Haw!" she cried to the other scholars; "here's a boy that can't chaw
terbacker."

Degraded and ashamed, he tried to correct his fault, but it only made him
very ill; and he did not try again.

He had also acquired the use of certain strong, expressive words, and
used them, sometimes, when his mother was safely distant. He had an
impression that she would "skin him alive" if she heard him swear. His
education had doubtful spots in it, but it had provided wisdom.

He was not a particularly attractive lad. He was not tall for his years,
and his head was somewhat too large for his body. He had a "great ruck"
of light, sandy hair which he plastered down to keep it from curling;
keen blue-gray eyes, and rather large features. Still, he had a fair,
delicate complexion, when it was not blackened by grime or tan; a gentle,
winning manner; a smile that, with his slow, measured way of speaking,
made him a favorite with his companions. He did not speak much, and his
mental attainments were not highly regarded; but, for some reason,
whenever he did speak every playmate in hearing stopped whatever he was
doing and listened. Perhaps it would be a plan for a new game or lark;
perhaps it was something droll; perhaps it was just a commonplace remark
that his peculiar drawl made amusing. Whatever it was, they considered
it worth while. His mother always referred to his slow fashion of
speaking as "Sammy's long talk." Her own speech was still more
deliberate, but she seemed not to notice it. Henry--a much handsomer lad
and regarded as far more promising--did not have it. He was a lovable,
obedient little fellow whom the mischievous Sam took delight in teasing.
For this and other reasons the latter's punishments were frequent enough,
perhaps not always deserved. Sometimes he charged his mother with
partiality. He would say:

"Yes, no matter what it is, I am always the one to get punished"; and his
mother would answer:

"Well, Sam, if you didn't deserve it for that, you did for something
else."

Henry Clemens became the Sid of Tom Sawyer, though Henry was in every way
a finer character than Sid. His brother Sam always loved him, and fought
for him oftener than with him.

With the death of Benjamin Clemens, Henry and Sam were naturally drawn
much closer together, though Sam could seldom resist the temptation of
tormenting Henry. A schoolmate, George Butler (he was a nephew of
General Butler and afterward fought bravely in the Civil War), had a
little blue suit with a leather belt to match, and was the envy of all.
Mrs. Clemens finally made Sam and Henry suits of blue cotton velvet, and
the next Sunday, after various services were over, the two sauntered
about, shedding glory for a time, finally going for a stroll in the
woods. They walked along properly enough, at first, then just ahead Sam
spied the stump of a newly cut tree, and with a wild whooping impulse
took a running leap over it. There were splinters on the stump where the
tree had broken away, but he cleared them neatly. Henry wanted to match
the performance, but was afraid to try, so Sam dared him. He kept daring
him until Henry was goaded to the attempt. He cleared the stump, but the
highest splinters caught the slack of his little blue trousers, and the
cloth gave way. He escaped injury, but the precious trousers were
damaged almost beyond repair. Sam, with a boy's heartlessness, was
fairly rolling on the ground with laughter at Henry's appearance.

"Cotton-tail rabbit!" he shouted. "Cotton-tail rabbit!" while Henry,
weeping, set out for home by a circuitous and unfrequented road. Let us
hope, if there was punishment for this mishap, that it fell in the proper
locality.

These two brothers were of widely different temperament. Henry, even as
a little boy, was sturdy, industrious, and dependable. Sam was volatile
and elusive; his industry of an erratic kind. Once his father set him to
work with a hatchet to remove some plaster. He hacked at it for a time
well enough, then lay down on the floor of the room and threw his hatchet
at such areas of the plaster as were not in easy reach. Henry would have
worked steadily at a task like that until the last bit was removed and
the room swept clean.

The home incidents in 'Tom Sawyer', most of them, really happened. Sam
Clemens did clod Henry for getting him into trouble about the colored
thread with which he sewed his shirt when he came home from swimming; he
did inveigle a lot of boys into whitewashing, a fence for him; he did
give Pain-killer to Peter, the cat. There was a cholera scare that year,
and Pain-killer was regarded as a preventive. Sam had been ordered to
take it liberally, and perhaps thought Peter too should be safeguarded.
As for escaping punishment for his misdeeds in the manner described in
that book, this was a daily matter, and the methods adapted themselves to
the conditions. In the introduction to Tom Sawyer Mark Twain confesses
to the general truth of the history, and to the reality of its
characters. "Huck Finn was drawn from life," he tells us. "Tom Sawyer
also, but not from an individual--he is a combination of the
characteristics of three boys whom I knew."

The three boys were--himself, chiefly, and in a lesser degree John Briggs
and Will Bowen. John Briggs was also the original of Joe Harper in that
book. As for Huck Finn, his original was Tom Blankenship, neither
elaborated nor qualified.

There were several of the Blankenships: there was old Ben, the father,
who had succeeded "General" Gains as the town drunkard; young Ben, the
eldest son--a hard case with certain good traits; and Tom--that is to
say, Huck--who was just as he is described in Tom Sawyer: a ruin of rags,
a river-rat, an irresponsible bit of human drift, kind of heart and
possessing that priceless boon, absolute unaccountability of conduct to
any living soul. He could came and go as he chose; he never had to work
or go to school; he could do all things, good or bad, that the other boys
longed to do and were forbidden. He represented to them the very
embodiment of liberty, and his general knowledge of important matters,
such as fishing, hunting, trapping, and all manner of signs and spells
and hoodoos and incantations, made him immensely valuable as a companion.
The fact that his society was prohibited gave it a vastly added charm.

The Blankenships picked up a precarious living fishing and hunting, and
lived at first in a miserable house of bark, under a tree, but later
moved into quite a pretentious building back of the new Clemens home on
Hill Street. It was really an old barn of a place--poor and ramshackle
even then; but now, more than sixty years later, a part of it is still
standing. The siding of the part that stands is of black walnut, which
must have been very plentiful in that long-ago time. Old drunken Ben
Blankenship never dreamed that pieces of his house would be carried off
as relics because of the literary fame of his son Tom--a fame founded on
irresponsibility and inconsequence. Orion Clemens, who was concerned
with missionary work about this time, undertook to improve the
Blankenships spiritually. Sam adopted them, outright, and took them to
his heart. He was likely to be there at any hour of the day, and he and
Tom had cat-call signals at night which would bring him out on the back
single-story roof, and down a little arbor and flight of steps, to the
group of boon companions which, besides Tom, included John Briggs, the
Bowen boys, Will Pitts, and one or two other congenial spirits. They
were not vicious boys; they were not really bad boys; they were only
mischievous, fun-loving boys-thoughtless, and rather disregardful of the
comforts and the rights of others.




XII

TOM SAWYER'S BAND

They ranged from Holliday's Hill on the north to the Cave on the south,
and over the fields and through all the woods about. They navigated the
river from Turtle Island to Glasscock's Island (now Pearl, or Tom
Sawyer's Island), and far below; they penetrated the wilderness of the
Illinois shore. They could run like wild turkeys and swim like ducks;
they could handle a boat as if born in one. No orchard or melon patch
was entirely safe from them; no dog or slave patrol so vigilant that they
did not sooner or later elude it. They borrowed boats when their owners
were not present. Once when they found this too much trouble, they
decided to own a boat, and one Sunday gave a certain borrowed craft a
coat of red paint (formerly it had been green), and secluded it for a
season up Bear Creek. They borrowed the paint also, and the brush,
though they carefully returned these the same evening about nightfall, so
the painter could have them Monday morning. Tom Blankenship rigged up a
sail for the new craft, and Sam Clemens named it Cecilia, after which
they didn't need to borrow boats any more, though the owner of it did;
and he sometimes used to observe as he saw it pass that, if it had been
any other color but red, he would have sworn it was his.

Some of their expeditions were innocent enough. They often cruised up to
Turtle Island, about two miles above Hannibal, and spent the day
feasting. You could have loaded a car with turtles and their eggs up
there, and there were quantities of mussels and plenty of fish. Fishing
and swimming were their chief pastimes, with general marauding for
adventure. Where the railroad-bridge now ends on the Missouri side was
their favorite swimming-hole--that and along Bear Creek, a secluded
limpid water with special interests of its own. Sometimes at evening
they swam across to Glasscock's Island--the rendezvous of Tom Sawyer's
"Black Avengers" and the hiding-place of Huck and Nigger Jim; then, when
they had frolicked on the sand-bar at the head of the island for an hour
or more, they would swim back in the dusk, a distance of half a mile,
breasting the strong, steady Mississippi current without exhaustion or
fear. They could swim all day, likely enough, those graceless young
scamps. Once--though this was considerably later, when he was sixteen
--Sam Clemens swam across to the Illinois side, and then turned and swam
back again without landing, a distance of at least two miles, as he had
to go. He was seized with a cramp on the return trip. His legs became
useless, and he was obliged to make the remaining distance with his arms.
It was a hardy life they led, and it is not recorded that they ever did
any serious damage, though they narrowly missed it sometimes.

One of their Sunday pastimes was to climb Holliday's Hill and roll down
big stones, to frighten the people who were driving to church. Holliday's
Hill above the road was steep; a stone once started would go plunging and
leaping down and bound across the road with the deadly swiftness of a
twelve-inch shell. The boys would get a stone poised, then wait until
they saw a team approaching, and, calculating the distance, would give it
a start. Dropping down behind the bushes, they would watch the dramatic
effect upon the church-goers as the great missile shot across the road a
few yards before them. This was Homeric sport, but they carried it too
far. Stones that had a habit of getting loose so numerously on Sundays
and so rarely on other days invited suspicion, and the "Patterollers"
(river patrol--a kind of police of those days) were put on the watch. So
the boys found other diversions until the Patterollers did not watch any
more; then they planned a grand coup that would eclipse anything before
attempted in the stone-rolling line.

A rock about the size of an omnibus was lying up there, in a good
position to go down hill, once, started. They decided it would be a
glorious thing to see that great boulder go smashing down, a hundred
yards or so in front of some unsuspecting and peaceful-minded
church-goer. Quarrymen were getting out rock not far away, and left
their picks and shovels over Sundays. The boys borrowed these, and went
to work to undermine the big stone. It was a heavier job than they had
counted on, but they worked faithfully, Sunday after Sunday. If their
parents had wanted them to work like that, they would have thought they
were being killed.

Finally one Sunday, while they were digging, it suddenly got loose and
started down. They were not quite ready for it. Nobody was coming but
an old colored man in a cart, so it was going to be wasted. It was not
quite wasted, however. They had planned for a thrilling result; and
there was thrill enough while it lasted. In the first place, the stone
nearly caught Will Bowen when it started. John Briggs had just that
moment quit digging and handed Will the pick. Will was about to step
into the excavation when Sam Clemens, who was already there, leaped out
with a yell:

"Look out, boys, she's coming!"

She came. The huge stone kept to the ground at first, then, gathering a
wild momentum, it went bounding into the air. About half-way down the
hill it struck a tree several inches through and cut it clean off. This
turned its course a little, and the negro in the cart, who heard the
noise, saw it come crashing in his direction and made a wild effort to
whip up his horse. It was also headed toward a cooper-shop across the
road. The boys watched it with growing interest. It made longer leaps
with every bound, and whenever it struck the fragments the dust would
fly. They were certain it would demolish the negro and destroy the
cooper-shop. The shop was empty, it being Sunday, but the rest of the
catastrophe would invite close investigation, with results. They wanted
to fly, but they could not move until they saw the rock land. It was
making mighty leaps now, and the terrified negro had managed to get
directly in its path. They stood holding their breath, their mouths
open. Then suddenly they could hardly believe their eyes; the boulder
struck a projection a distance above the road, and with a mighty bound
sailed clear over the negro and his mule and landed in the soft dirt
beyond-only a fragment striking the shop, damaging but not wrecking it.
Half buried in the ground, that boulder lay there for nearly forty years;
then it was blasted up for milling purposes. It was the last rock the
boys ever rolled down. They began to suspect that the sport was not
altogether safe.

Sometimes the boys needed money, which was not easy to get in those days.
On one occasion of this sort, Tom Blankenship had the skin of a coon he
had captured, which represented the only capital in the crowd. At
Selms's store on Wild Cat corner the coonskin would bring ten cents, but
that was not enough. They arranged a plan which would make it pay a good
deal more than that. Selins's window was open, it being summer-time, and
his pile of pelts was pretty handy. Huck--that is to say, Tom--went in
the front door and sold the skin for ten cents to Selms, who tossed it
back on the pile. Tom came back with the money and after a reasonable
period went around to the open window, crawled in, got the coonskin, and
sold it to Selms again. He did this several times that afternoon; then
John Pierce, Selins's clerk, said:

"Look here, Selms, there is something wrong about this. That boy has
been selling us coonskins all the afternoon."

Selms went to his pile of pelts. There were several sheepskins and some
cowhides, but only one coonskin--the one he had that moment bought. Selms
himself used to tell this story as a great joke.

Perhaps it is not adding to Mark Twain's reputation to say that the boy
Sam Clemens--a pretty small boy, a good deal less than twelve at this
time--was the leader of this unhallowed band; yet any other record would
be less than historic. If the band had a leader, it was he. They were
always ready to listen to him--they would even stop fishing to do that
--and to follow his projects. They looked to him for ideas and
organization, whether the undertaking was to be real or make-believe.
When they played "Bandit" or "Pirate" or "Indian," Sam Clemens was always
chief; when they became real raiders it is recorded that he was no less
distinguished. Like Tom Sawyer, he loved the glare and trappings of
leadership. When the Christian Sons of Temperance came along with a
regalia, and a red sash that carried with it rank and the privilege of
inventing pass-words, the gaud of these things got into his eyes, and he
gave up smoking (which he did rather gingerly) and swearing (which he did
only under heavy excitement), also liquor (though he had never tasted it
yet), and marched with the newly washed and pure in heart for a full
month--a month of splendid leadership and servitude. Then even the red
sash could not hold him in bondage. He looked up Tom Blankenship and
said:

"Say, Tom, I'm blamed tired of this! Let's go somewhere and smoke!"
Which must have been a good deal of a sacrifice, for the uniform was a
precious thing.

Limelight and the center of the stage was a passion of Sam Clemens's
boyhood, a love of the spectacular that never wholly died. It seems
almost a pity that in those far-off barefoot old days he could not have
looked down the years to a time when, with the world at his feet,
venerable Oxford should clothe him in a scarlet gown.

He could not by any chance have dreamed of that stately honor. His
ambitions did not lie in the direction of mental achievement. It is true
that now and then, on Friday at school, he read a composition, one of
which--a personal burlesque on certain older boys--came near resulting in
bodily damage. But any literary ambition he may have had in those days
was a fleeting thing. His permanent dream was to be a pirate, or a
pilot, or a bandit, or a trapper-scout; something gorgeous and active,
where his word--his nod, even--constituted sufficient law. The river
kept the pilot ambition always fresh, and the cave supplied a background
for those other things.

The cave was an enduring and substantial joy. It was a real cave, not
merely a hole, but a subterranean marvel of deep passages and vaulted
chambers that led away into bluffs and far down into the earth's black
silences, even below the river, some said. For Sam Clemens the cave had
a fascination that never faded. Other localities and diversions might
pall, but any mention of the cave found him always eager and ready for
the three-mile walk or pull that brought them to its mystic door. With
its long corridors, its royal chambers hung with stalactites, its remote
hiding-places, its possibilities as the home of a gallant outlaw band, it
contained everything that a romantic boy could love or long for. In Tom
Sawyer Indian Joe dies in the cave. He did not die there in real life,
but was lost there once, and was living on bats when they found him. He
was a dissolute reprobate, and when, one night, he did die there came up
a thunder-storm so terrific that Sam Clemens at home and in bed was
certain that Satan had come in person for the half-breed's wicked soul.
He covered his head and said his prayers industriously, in the fear that
the evil one might conclude to save another trip by taking him along,
too.

The treasure-digging adventure in the book had a foundation in fact.
There was a tradition concerning some French trappers who long before had
established a trading-post two miles above Hannibal, on what is called
the "bay." It is said that, while one of these trappers was out hunting,
Indians made a raid on the post and massacred the others. The hunter on
returning found his comrades killed and scalped, but the Indians had
failed to find the treasure which was buried in a chest. He left it
there, swam across to Illinois, and made his way to St. Louis, where he
told of the massacre and the burial of the chest of gold. Then he
started to raise a party to go back for it, but was taken sick and died.
Later some men came up from St. Louis looking for the chest. They did
not find it, but they told the circumstances, and afterward a good many
people tried to find the gold.

Tom Blankenship one morning came to Sam Clemens and John Briggs and said
he was going to dig up the treasure. He said he had dreamed just where
it was, and said if they would go with him and dig he would divide up.
The boys had great faith in dreams, especially Tom's dreams. Tom's
unlimited freedom gave him a large importance in their eyes. The dreams
of a boy like that were pretty sure to mean something. They followed Tom
to the place with some shovels and a pick, and he showed them where to
dig. Then he sat down under the shade of a papaw-tree and gave orders.

They dug nearly all day. Now and then they stopped to rest, and maybe to
wonder a little why Tom didn't dig some himself; but, of course, he had
done the dreaming, which entitled him to an equal share.

They did not find it that day, and when they went back next morning they
took two long iron rods; these they would push and drive into the ground
until they struck something hard. Then they would dig down to see what
it was, but it never turned out to be money. That night the boys
declared they would not dig any more. But Tom had another dream. He
dreamed the gold was exactly under the little papaw-tree. This sounded
so circumstantial that they went back and dug another day. It was hot
weather too, August, and that night they were nearly dead. Even Tom gave
it up, then. He said there was something about the way they dug, but he
never offered to do any digging himself.

This differs considerably from the digging incident in the book, but it
gives us an idea of the respect the boys had for the ragamuffin original
of Huckleberry Finn.--[Much of the detail in this chapter was furnished
to the writer by John Briggs shortly before his death in 1907.]--Tom
Blankenship's brother, Ben, was also drawn upon for that creation, at
least so far as one important phase of Huck's character is concerned. He
was considerably older, as well as more disreputable, than Tom. He was
inclined to torment the boys by tying knots in their clothes when they
went swimming, or by throwing mud at them when they wanted to come out,
and they had no deep love for him. But somewhere in Ben Blankenship
there was a fine generous strain of humanity that provided Mark Twain
with that immortal episode in the story of Huck Finn--in sheltering the
Nigger Jim.

This is the real story:

A slave ran off from Monroe County, Missouri, and got across the river
into Illinois. Ben used to fish and hunt over there in the swamps, and
one day found him. It was considered a most worthy act in those days to
return a runaway slave; in fact, it was a crime not to do it. Besides,
there was for this one a reward of fifty dollars, a fortune to ragged
outcast Ben Blankenship. That money and the honor he could acquire must
have been tempting to the waif, but it did not outweigh his human
sympathy. Instead of giving him up and claiming the reward, Ben kept the
runaway over there in the marshes all summer. The negro would fish and
Ben would carry him scraps of other food. Then, by and by, it leaked
out. Some wood-choppers went on a hunt for the fugitive, and chased him
to what was called "Bird Slough." There trying to cross a drift he was
drowned.

In the book, the author makes Huck's struggle a psychological one between
conscience and the law, on one side, and sympathy on the other. With Ben
Blankenship the struggle--if there was a struggle--was probably between
sympathy and cupidity. He would care very little for conscience and
still less for law. His sympathy with the runaway, however, would be
large and elemental, and it must have been very large to offset the lure
of that reward.

There was a gruesome sequel to this incident. Some days following the
drowning of the runaway, Sam Clemens, John Briggs, and the Bowen boys
went to the spot and were pushing the drift about, when suddenly the
negro rose before them, straight and terrible, about half his length out
of the water. He had gone down feet foremost, and the loosened drift had
released him. The boys did not stop to investigate. They thought he was
after them and flew in wild terror, never stopping until they reached
human habitation.

How many gruesome experiences there appear to have been in those early
days! In 'The Innocents Abroad' Mark Twain tells of the murdered man he
saw one night in his father's office. The man's name was McFarlane. He
had been stabbed that day in the old Hudson-McFarlane feud and carried in
there to die. Sam Clemens and John Briggs had run away from school and
had been sky larking all that day, and knew nothing of the affair. Sam
decided that his father's office was safer for him than to face his
mother, who was probably sitting up, waiting. He tells us how he lay on
the lounge, and how a shape on the floor gradually resolved itself into
the outlines of a man; how a square of moonlight from the window
approached it and gradually revealed the dead face and the ghastly
stabbed breast.

"I went out of there," he says. "I do not say that I went away in any
sort of a hurry, but I simply went; that is sufficient. I went out of
the window, and I carried the sash along with me. I did not need the
sash, but it was handier to take it than to, leave it, and so I took it.
I was not scared, but I was considerably agitated."

He was not yet twelve, for his father was no longer alive when the boy
reached that age. Certainly these were disturbing, haunting things. Then
there was the case of the drunken tramp in the calaboose to whom the boys
kind-heartedly enough carried food and tobacco. Sam Clemens spent some
of his precious money to buy the tramp a box of Lucifer matches--a brand
new invention then, scarce and high. The tramp started a fire with the
matches and burned down the calaboose, himself in it. For weeks the boy
was tortured, awake and in his dreams, by the thought that if he had not
carried the man the matches the tragedy could not have happened. Remorse
was always Samuel Clemens's surest punishment. To his last days on earth
he never outgrew its pangs.

What a number of things crowded themselves into a few brief years! It is
not easy to curtail these boyhood adventures of Sam Clemens and his
scapegrace friends, but one might go on indefinitely with their mad
doings. They were an unpromising lot. Ministers and other sober-minded
citizens freely prophesied sudden and violent ends for them, and
considered them hardly worth praying for. They must have proven a
disappointing lot to those prophets. The Bowen boys became fine
river-pilots; Will Pitts was in due time a leading merchant and bank
director; John Briggs grew into a well-to-do and highly respected farmer;
even Huck Finn--that is to say, Tom Blankenship--is reputed to have
ranked as an honored citizen and justice of the peace in a Western town.
But in those days they were a riotous, fun-loving band with little
respect for order and even less for ordinance.




XIII

THE GENTLER SIDE

His associations were not all of that lawless breed. At his school (he
had sampled several places of learning, and was now at Mr. Cross's on the
Square) were a number of less adventurous, even if not intrinsically
better playmates. There was George Robards, the Latin scholar, and John,
his brother, a handsome boy, who rode away at last with his father into
the sunset, to California, his golden curls flying in the wind. And
there was Jimmy McDaniel, a kind-hearted boy whose company was worth
while, because his father was a confectioner, and he used to bring candy
and cake to school. Also there was Buck Brown, a rival speller, and John
Meredith, the doctor's son, and John Garth, who was one day to marry
little Helen Kercheval, and in the end would be remembered and honored
with a beautiful memorial building not far from the site of the old
school.

Furthermore, there were a good many girls. Tom Sawyer had an
impressionable heart, and Sam Clemens no less so. There was Bettie
Ormsley, and Artemisia Briggs, and Jennie Brady; also Mary Miller, who
was nearly twice his age and gave him his first broken heart.

"I believe I was as miserable as a grown man could be," he said once,
remembering.

Tom Sawyer had heart sorrows too, and we may imagine that his emotions at
such times were the emotions of Sam Clemens, say at the age of ten.

But, as Tom Sawyer had one faithful sweetheart, so did he. They were one
and the same. Becky Thatcher in the book was Laura Hawkins in reality.
The acquaintance of these two had begun when the Hawkins family moved
into the Virginia house on the corner of Hill and Main streets.--[The
Hawkins family in real life bore no resemblance to the family of that
name in The Gilded Age. Judge Hawkins of The Gilded Age, as already
noted, was John Clemens. Mark Twain used the name Hawkins, also the name
of his boyhood sweetheart, Laura, merely for old times' sake, and because
in portraying the childhood of Laura Hawkins he had a picture of the real
Laura in his mind.]--The Clemens family was then in the new home across
the way, and the children were soon acquainted. The boy could be tender
and kind, and was always gentle in his treatment of the other sex. They
visited back and forth, especially around the new house, where there were
nice pieces of boards and bricks for play-houses. So they played
"keeping house," and if they did not always agree well, since the
beginning of the world sweethearts have not always agreed, even in
Arcady. Once when they were building a house--and there may have been
some difference of opinion as to its architecture--the boy happened to
let a brick fall on the little girl's finger. If there had been any
disagreement it vanished instantly with that misfortune. He tried to
comfort her and soothe the pain; then he wept with her and suffered most
of the two, no doubt. So, you see, he was just a little boy, after all,
even though he was already chief of a red-handed band, the "Black
Avengers of the Spanish Main."

He was always a tender-hearted lad. He would never abuse an animal,
unless, as in the Pain-killer incident, his tendency to pranking ran away
with him. He had indeed a genuine passion for cats; summers when he went
to the farm he never failed to take his cat in a basket. When he ate, it
sat in a chair beside him at the table. His sympathy included inanimate
things as well. He loved flowers--not as the embryo botanist or
gardener, but as a personal friend. He pitied the dead leaf and the
murmuring dried weed of November because their brief lives were ended,
and they would never know the summer again, or grow glad with another
spring. His heart went out to them; to the river and the sky, the sunlit
meadow and the drifted hill. That his observation of all nature was
minute and accurate is shown everywhere in his writing; but it was never
the observation of a young naturalist it was the subconscious observation
of sympathetic love.

We are wandering away from his school-days. They were brief enough and
came rapidly to an end. They will not hold us long. Undoubtedly Tom
Sawyer's distaste for school and his excuses for staying at home--usually
some pretended illness--have ample foundation in the boyhood of Sam
Clemens. His mother punished him and pleaded with him, alternately. He
detested school as he detested nothing else on earth, even going to
church. "Church ain't worth shucks," said Tom Sawyer, but it was better
than school.

As already noted, the school of Mr. Cross stood in or near what is now
the Square in Hannibal. The Square was only a grove then, grown up with
plum, hazel, and vine--a rare place for children. At recess and the noon
hour the children climbed trees, gathered flowers, and swung in
grape-vine swings. There was a spelling-bee every Friday afternoon, for
Sam the only endurable event of the school exercises. He could hold the
floor at spelling longer than Buck Brown. This was spectacular and
showy; it invited compliments even from Mr. Cross, whose name must have
been handed down by angels, it fitted him so well. One day Sam Clemens
wrote on his slate:

       Cross by name and cross by nature
       Cross jumped over an Irish potato.

He showed this to John Briggs, who considered it a stroke of genius. He
urged the author to write it on the board at noon, but the poet's
ambition did not go so far.

"Oh, pshaw!" said John. "I wouldn't be afraid to do it.

"I dare you to do it," said Sam.

John Briggs never took a dare, and at noon, when Mr. Cross was at home at
dinner, he wrote flamingly the descriptive couplet. When the teacher
returned and "books" were called he looked steadily at John Briggs. He
had recognized the penmanship.

"Did you do that?" he asked, ominously.

It was a time for truth.

"Yes, sir," said John.

"Come here!" And John came, and paid for his exploitation of genius
heavily. Sam Clemens expected that the next call would be for "author,"
but for some reason the investigation ended there. It was unusual for
him to escape. His back generally kept fairly warm from one "frailing"
to the next.

His rewards were not all of a punitive nature. There were two medals in
the school, one for spelling, the other for amiability. They were
awarded once a week, and the holders wore them about the neck
conspicuously, and were envied accordingly. John Robards--he of the
golden curls--wore almost continuously the medal for amiability, while
Sam Clemens had a mortgage on the medal for spelling. Sometimes they
traded, to see how it would seem, but the master discouraged this
practice by taking the medals away from them for the remainder of the
week. Once Sam Clemens lost the medal by leaving the first "r" out of
February. He could have spelled it backward, if necessary; but Laura
Hawkins was the only one on the floor against him, and he was a gallant
boy.

The picture of that school as presented in the book written thirty years
later is faithful, we may believe, and the central figure is a
tender-hearted, romantic, devil-may-care lad, loathing application and
longing only for freedom. It was a boon which would come to him sooner
even than he had dreamed.




XIV

THE PASSING OF JOHN CLEMENS

Judge Clemens, who time and again had wrecked or crippled his fortune by
devices more or less unusual, now adopted the one unfailing method of
achieving disaster. He endorsed a large note, for a man of good repute,
and the payment of it swept him clean: home, property, everything
vanished again. The St. Louis cousin took over the home and agreed to
let the family occupy it on payment of a small interest; but after an
attempt at housekeeping with a few scanty furnishings and Pamela's piano
--all that had been saved from the wreck--they moved across the street
into a portion of the Virginia house, then occupied by a Dr. Grant. The
Grants proposed that the Clemens family move over and board them, a
welcome arrangement enough at this time.

Judge Clemens had still a hope left. The clerkship of the Surrogate
Court was soon to be filled by election. It was an important
remunerative office, and he was regarded as the favorite candidate for
the position. His disaster had aroused general sympathy, and his
nomination and election were considered sure. He took no chances; he
made a canvass on horseback from house to house, often riding through
rain and the chill of fall, acquiring a cough which was hard to overcome.
He was elected by a heavy majority, and it was believed he could hold the
office as long as he chose. There seemed no further need of worry. As
soon as he was installed in office they would live in style becoming
their social position. About the end of February he rode to Palmyra to
be sworn in. Returning he was drenched by a storm of rain and sleet,
arriving at last half frozen. His system was in no condition to resist
such a shock. Pneumonia followed; physicians came with torments of
plasters and allopathic dosings that brought no relief. Orion returned
from St. Louis to assist in caring for him, and sat by his bed,
encouraging him and reading to him, but it was evident that he grew daily
weaker. Now and then he became cheerful and spoke of the Tennessee land
as the seed of a vast fortune that must surely flower at last. He
uttered no regrets, no complaints. Once only he said:

"I believe if I had stayed in Tennessee I might have been worth twenty
thousand dollars to-day."

On the morning of the 24th of March, 1847, it was evident that he could
not live many hours. He was very weak. When he spoke, now and then, it
was of the land. He said it would soon make them all rich and happy.

"Cling to the land," he whispered. "Cling to the land, and wait. Let
nothing beguile it away from you."

A little later he beckoned to Pamela, now a lovely girl of nineteen, and,
putting his arm about her neck, kissed her for the first time in years.

"Let me die," he said.

He never spoke after that. A little more, and the sad, weary life that
had lasted less than forty-nine years was ended: A dreamer and a
moralist, an upright man honored by all, he had never been a financier.
He ended life with less than he had begun.




XV

A YOUNG BEN FRANKLIN

For a third time death had entered the Clemens home: not only had it
brought grief now, but it had banished the light of new fortune from the
very threshold. The disaster seemed complete.

The children were dazed. Judge Clemens had been a distant, reserved man,
but they had loved him, each in his own way, and they had honored his
uprightness and nobility of purpose. Mrs. Clemens confided to a neighbor
that, in spite of his manner, her husband had been always warm-hearted,
with a deep affection for his family. They remembered that he had never
returned from a journey without bringing each one some present, however
trifling. Orion, looking out of his window next morning, saw old Abram
Kurtz, and heard him laugh. He wondered how anybody could still laugh.

The boy Sam was fairly broken down. Remorse, which always dealt with him
unsparingly, laid a heavy hand on him now. Wildness, disobedience,
indifference to his father's wishes, all were remembered; a hundred
things, in themselves trifling, became ghastly and heart-wringing in the
knowledge that they could never be undone. Seeing his grief, his mother
took him by the hand and led him into the room where his father lay.

"It is all right, Sammy," she said. "What's done is done, and it does
not matter to him any more; but here by the side of him now I want you to
promise me----"

He turned, his eyes streaming with tears, and flung himself into her
arms.

"I will promise anything," he sobbed, "if you won't make me go to school!
Anything!"

His mother held him for a moment, thinking, then she said:

"No, Sammy; you need not go to school any more. Only promise me to be a
better boy. Promise not to break my heart."

So he promised her to be a faithful and industrious man, and upright,
like his father. His mother was satisfied with that. The sense of honor
and justice was already strong within him. To him a promise was a
serious matter at any time; made under conditions like these it would be
held sacred.

That night--it was after the funeral--his tendency to somnambulism
manifested itself. His mother and sister, who were sleeping together,
saw the door open and a form in white enter. Naturally nervous at such a
time, and living in a day of almost universal superstition, they were
terrified and covered their heads. Presently a hand was laid on the
coverlet, first at the foot, then at the head of the bed. A thought
struck Mrs. Clemens:

"Sam!" she said.

He answered, but he was sound asleep and fell to the floor. He had risen
and thrown a sheet around him in his dreams. He walked in his sleep
several nights in succession after that. Then he slept more soundly.

Orion returned to St. Louis. He was a very good book and job printer by
this time and received a salary of ten dollars a week (high wages in
those frugal days), of which he sent three dollars weekly to the family.
Pamela, who had acquired a considerable knowledge of the piano and
guitar, went to the town of Paris, in Monroe County, about fifty miles
away, and taught a class of music pupils, contributing whatever remained
after paying for her board and clothing to the family fund. It was a
hard task for the girl, for she was timid and not over-strong; but she
was resolute and patient, and won success. Pamela Clemens was a noble
character and deserves a fuller history than can be afforded in this
work.

Mrs. Clemens and her son Samuel now had a sober talk, and, realizing that
the printing trade offered opportunity for acquiring further education as
well as a livelihood, they agreed that he should be apprenticed to Joseph
P. Ament, who had lately moved from Palmyra to Hannibal and bought a
weekly Democrat paper, the Missouri Courier. The apprentice terms were
not over-liberal. They were the usual thing for that time: board and
clothes--"more board than clothes, and not much of either," Mark Twain
used to say.

"I was supposed to get two suits of clothes a year, like a nigger, but I
didn't get them. I got one suit and took the rest out in Ament's old
garments, which didn't fit me in any noticeable way. I was only about
half as big as he was, and when I had on one of his shirts I felt as if I
had on a circus tent. I had to turn the trousers up to my ears to make
them short enough."

There was another apprentice, a young fellow of about eighteen, named
Wales McCormick, a devilish fellow and a giant. Ament's clothes were too
small for Wales, but he had to wear them, and Sam Clemens and Wales
McCormick together, fitted out with Ament's clothes, must have been a
picturesque pair. There was also, for a time, a boy named Ralph; but he
appears to have presented no features of a striking sort, and the memory
of him has become dim.

The apprentices ate in the kitchen at first, served by the old slave-cook
and her handsome mulatto daughter; but those printer's "devils" made it
so lively there that in due time they were promoted to the family table,
where they sat with Mr. and Mrs. Ament and the one journeyman, Pet
McMurry--a name that in itself was an inspiration. What those young
scamps did not already know Pet McMurry could teach them. Sam Clemens
had promised to be a good boy, and he was, by the standards of boyhood.
He was industrious, regular at his work, quick to learn, kind, and
truthful. Angels could hardly be more than that in a printing-office;
but when food was scarce even an angel--a young printer angel--could
hardly resist slipping down the cellar stairs at night for raw potatoes,
onions, and apples which they carried into the office, where the boys
slept on a pallet on the floor, and this forage they cooked on the office
stove. Wales especially had a way of cooking a potato that his associate
never forgot.

It is unfortunate that no photographic portrait has been preserved of Sam
Clemens at this period. But we may imagine him from a letter which, long
years after, Pet McMurry wrote to Mark Twain. He said:

    If your memory extends so far back, you will recall a little sandy-
    haired boy--[The color of Mark Twain's hair in early life has been
    variously referred to as red, black, and brown. It was, in fact, as
    stated by McMurry, "sandy" in boyhood, deepening later to that rich,
    mahogany tone known as auburn.]--of nearly a quarter of a century
    ago, in the printing-office at Hannibal, over the Brittingham
    drugstore, mounted upon a little box at the case, pulling away at a
    huge cigar or a diminutive pipe, who used to love to sing so well
    the expression of the poor drunken man who was supposed to have
    fallen by the wayside: "If ever I get up again, I'll stay up--if I
    kin." . . . Do you recollect any of the serious conflicts that
    mirth-loving brain of yours used to get you into with that
    diminutive creature Wales McCormick--how you used to call upon me to
    hold your cigar or pipe, whilst you went entirely through him?

This is good testimony, without doubt. When he had been with Ament
little more than a year Sam had become office favorite and chief standby.
Whatever required intelligence and care and imagination was given to Sam
Clemens. He could set type as accurately and almost as rapidly as Pet
McMurry; he could wash up the forms a good deal better than Pet; and he
could run the job-press to the tune of "Annie Laurie" or "Along the Beach
at Rockaway," without missing a stroke or losing a finger. Sometimes, at
odd moments, he would "set up" one of the popular songs or some favorite
poem like "The Blackberry Girl," and of these he sent copies printed on
cotton, even on scraps of silk, to favorite girl friends; also to Puss
Quarles, on his uncle's farm, where he seldom went now, because he was
really grown up, associating with men and doing a man's work. He had
charge of the circulation--which is to say, he carried the papers. During
the last year of the Mexican War, when a telegraph-wire found its way
across the Mississippi to Hannibal--a long sagging span, that for some
reason did not break of its own weight--he was given charge of the extras
with news from the front; and the burning importance of his mission, the
bringing of news hot from the field of battle, spurred him to endeavors
that won plaudits and success.

He became a sort of subeditor. When the forms of the paper were ready to
close and Ament was needed to supply more matter, it was Sam who was
delegated to find that rather uncertain and elusive person and labor with
him until the required copy was produced. Thus it was he saw literature
in the making.

It is not believed that Sam had any writing ambitions of his own. His
chief desire was to be an all-round journeyman printer like Pet McMurry;
to drift up and down the world in Pet's untrammeled fashion; to see all
that Pet had seen and a number of things which Pet appeared to have
overlooked. He varied on occasion from this ambition. When the first
negro minstrel show visited Hannibal and had gone, he yearned for a brief
period to be a magnificent "middle man" or even the "end-man" of that
combination; when the circus came and went, he dreamed of the day when, a
capering frescoed clown, he would set crowded tiers of spectators
guffawing at his humor; when the traveling hypnotist arrived, he
volunteered as a subject, and amazed the audience by the marvel of his
performance.

In later life he claimed that he had not been hypnotized in any degree,
but had been pretending throughout--a statement always denied by his
mother and his brother Orion. This dispute was never settled, and never
could be. Sam Clemens's tendency to somnambulism would seem to suggest
that he really might have taken on a hypnotic condition, while his
consummate skill as an actor, then and always, and his early fondness of
exhibition and a joke, would make it not unlikely that he was merely
"showing off" and having his fun. He could follow the dictates of a
vivid imagination and could be as outrageous as he chose without
incurring responsibility of any sort. But there was a penalty: he must
allow pins and needles to be thrust into his flesh and suffer these
tortures without showing discomfort to the spectators. It is difficult
to believe that any boy, however great his exhibitory passion, could
permit, in the full possession of his sensibilities, a needle to be
thrust deeply into his flesh without manifestations of a most unmesmeric
sort. The conclusion seems warranted that he began by pretending, but
that at times he was at least under semi-mesmeric control. At all
events, he enjoyed a week of dazzling triumph, though in the end he
concluded to stick to printing as a trade.

We have said that he was a rapid learner and a neat workman. At Ament's
he generally had a daily task, either of composition or press-work, after
which he was free. When he had got the hang of his work he was usually
done by three in the afternoon; then away to the river or the cave, as in
the old days, sometimes with his boy friends, sometimes with Laura
Hawkins gathering wild columbine on that high cliff overlooking the
river, Lover's Leap.

He was becoming quite a beau, attending parties on occasion, where
old-fashioned games--Forfeits, Ring-around-a-Rosy, Dusty Miller, and the
like--were regarded as rare amusements. He was a favorite with girls of
his own age. He was always good-natured, though he played jokes on them,
too, and was often a severe trial. He was with Laura Hawkins more than
the others, usually her escort. On Saturday afternoons in winter he
carried her skates to Bear Creek and helped her to put them on. After
which they skated "partners," holding hands tightly, and were a likely
pair of children, no doubt. In The Gilded Age Laura Hawkins at twelve is
pictured "with her dainty hands propped into the ribbon-bordered pockets
of her apron . . . a vision to warm the coldest heart and bless and
cheer the saddest." The author had the real Laura of his childhood in
his mind when he wrote that, though the story itself bears no resemblance
to her life.

They were never really sweethearts, those two. They were good friends
and comrades. Sometimes he brought her magazines--exchanges from the
printing--office--Godey's and others. These were a treat, for such
things were scarce enough. He cared little for reading, himself, beyond
a few exciting tales, though the putting into type of a good deal of
miscellaneous matter had beyond doubt developed in him a taste for
general knowledge. It needed only to be awakened.




XVI

THE TURNING-POINT

There came into his life just at this period one of those seemingly
trifling incidents which, viewed in retrospect, assume pivotal
proportions. He was on his way from the office to his home one afternoon
when he saw flying along the pavement a square of paper, a leaf from a
book. At an earlier time he would not have bothered with it at all, but
any printed page had acquired a professional interest for him now. He
caught the flying scrap and examined it. It was a leaf from some history
of Joan of Arc. The "maid" was described in the cage at Rouen, in the
fortress, and the two ruffian English soldiers had stolen her clothes.
There was a brief description and a good deal of dialogue--her reproaches
and their ribald replies.

He had never heard of the subject before. He had never read any history.
When he wanted to know any fact he asked Henry, who read everything
obtainable. Now, however, there arose within him a deep compassion for
the gentle Maid of Orleans, a burning resentment toward her captors, a
powerful and indestructible interest in her sad history. It was an
interest that would grow steadily for more than half a lifetime and
culminate at last in that crowning work, the Recollections, the loveliest
story ever told of the martyred girl.

The incident meant even more than that: it meant the awakening of his
interest in all history--the world's story in its many phases--a passion
which became the largest feature of his intellectual life and remained
with him until his very last day on earth. From the moment when that
fluttering leaf was blown into his hands his career as one of the world's
mentally elect was assured. It gave him his cue--the first word of a
part in the human drama. It crystallized suddenly within him sympathy
with the oppressed, rebellion against tyranny and treachery, scorn for
the divine rights of kings. A few months before he died he wrote a paper
on "The Turning-point of My Life." For some reason he did not mention
this incident. Yet if there was a turning-point in his life, he reached
it that bleak afternoon on the streets of Hannibal when a stray leaf from
another life was blown into his hands.

He read hungrily now everything he could find relating to the French
wars, and to Joan in particular. He acquired an appetite for history in
general, the record of any nation or period; he seemed likely to become a
student. Presently he began to feel the need of languages, French and
German. There was no opportunity to acquire French, that he could
discover, but there was a German shoemaker in Hannibal who agreed to
teach his native tongue. Sam Clemens got a friend--very likely it was
John Briggs--to form a class with him, and together they arranged for
lessons. The shoemaker had little or no English. They had no German. It
would seem, however, that their teacher had some sort of a "word-book,"
and when they assembled in his little cubby-hole of a retreat he began
reading aloud from it this puzzling sentence:

"De hain eet flee whoop in de hayer."

"Dere!" he said, triumphantly; "you know dose vord?"

The students looked at each other helplessly.

The teacher repeated the sentence, and again they were helpless when he
asked if they recognized it.

Then in despair he showed them the book. It was an English primer, and
the sentence was:

"The hen, it flies up in the air."

They explained to him gently that it was German they wished to learn, not
English--not under the circumstances. Later, Sam made an attempt at
Latin, and got a book for that purpose, but gave it up, saying:

"No, that language is not for me. I'll do well enough to learn English."
A boy who took it up with him became a Latin scholar.

His prejudice against oppression he put into practice. Boys who were
being imposed upon found in him a ready protector. Sometimes, watching a
game of marbles or tops, he would remark in his slow, impressive way:

"You mustn't cheat that boy." And the cheating stopped. When it didn't,
there was a combat, with consequences.




XVII

THE HANNIBAL "JOURNAL"

Orion returned from St. Louis. He felt that he was needed in Hannibal
and, while wages there were lower, his expenses at home were slight;
there was more real return for the family fund. His sister Pamela was
teaching a class in Hannibal at this time. Orion was surprised when his
mother and sister greeted him with kisses and tears. Any outward display
of affection was new to him.

The family had moved back across the street by this time. With Sam
supporting himself, the earnings of Orion and Pamela provided at least a
semblance of comfort. But Orion was not satisfied. Then, as always, he
had a variety of vague ambitions. Oratory appealed to him, and he
delivered a temperance lecture with an accompaniment of music, supplied
chiefly by Pamela. He aspired to the study of law, a recurring
inclination throughout his career. He also thought of the ministry, an
ambition which Sam shared with him for a time. Every mischievous boy has
it, sooner or later, though not all for the same reasons.

"It was the most earnest ambition I ever had," Mark Twain once remarked,
thoughtfully. "Not that I ever really wanted to be a preacher, but
because it never occurred to me that a preacher could be damned. It
looked like a safe job."

A periodical ambition of Orion's was to own and conduct a paper in
Hannibal. He felt that in such a position he might become a power in
Western journalism. Once his father had considered buying the Hannibal
Journal to give Orion a chance, and possibly to further his own political
ambitions. Now Orion considered it for himself. The paper was for sale
under a mortgage, and he was enabled to borrow the $500 which would
secure ownership. Sam's two years at Ament's were now complete, and
Orion induced him to take employment on the Journal. Henry at eleven was
taken out of school to learn typesetting.

Orion was a gentle, accommodating soul, but he lacked force and
independence.

"I followed all the advice I received," he says in his record. "If two
or more persons conflicted with each other, I adopted the views of the
last."

He started full of enthusiasm. He worked like a slave to save help:
wrote his own editorials, and made his literary selections at night. The
others worked too. Orion gave them hard tasks and long hours. He had
the feeling that the paper meant fortune or failure to them all; that all
must labor without stint. In his usual self-accusing way he wrote
afterward:

I was tyrannical and unjust to Sam. He was as swift and as clean as a
good journeyman. I gave him tasks, and if he got through well I
begrudged him the time and made him work more. He set a clean proof, and
Henry a very dirty one. The correcting was left to be done in the form
the day before publication. Once we were kept late, and Sam complained
with tears of bitterness that he was held till midnight on Henry's dirty
proofs.

Orion did not realize any injustice at the time. The game was too
desperate to be played tenderly. His first editorials were so brilliant
that it was not believed he could have written them. The paper
throughout was excellent, and seemed on the high road to success. But
the pace was too hard to maintain. Overwork brought weariness, and
Orion's enthusiasm, never a very stable quantity, grew feeble. He became
still more exacting.

It is not to be supposed that Sam Clemens had given up all amusements to
become merely a toiling drudge or had conquered in any large degree his
natural taste for amusement. He had become more studious; but after the
long, hard days in the office it was not to be expected that a boy of
fifteen would employ the evening--at least not every evening--in reading
beneficial books. The river was always near at hand--for swimming in the
summer and skating in the winter--and once even at this late period it
came near claiming a heavy tribute. That was one winter's night when
with another boy he had skated until nearly midnight. They were about in
the middle of the river when they heard a terrific and grinding noise
near the shore. They knew what it was. The ice was breaking up, and
they set out for home forthwith. It was moonlight, and they could tell
the ice from the water, which was a good thing, for there were wide
cracks toward the shore, and they had to wait for these to close. They
were an hour making the trip, and just before they reached the bank they
came to a broad space of water. The ice was lifting and falling and
crunching all around them. They waited as long as they dared and decided
to leap from cake to cake. Sam made the crossing without accident, but
his companion slipped in when a few feet from shore. He was a good
swimmer and landed safely, but the bath probably cost him his hearing. He
was taken very ill. One disease followed another, ending with scarlet
fever and deafness.

There was also entertainment in the office itself. A country boy named
Jim Wolfe had come to learn the trade--a green, good-natured, bashful
boy. In every trade tricks are played on the new apprentice, and Sam
felt that it was his turn to play them. With John Briggs to help him,
tortures for Jim Wolfe were invented and applied.

They taught him to paddle a canoe, and upset him. They took him sniping
at night and left him "holding the bag" in the old traditional fashion
while they slipped off home and went to bed.

But Jim Wolfe's masterpiece of entertainment was one which he undertook
on his own account. Pamela was having a candy-pull down-stairs one
night--a grown-up candy-pull to which the boys were not expected. Jim
would not have gone, anyway, for he was bashful beyond belief, and always
dumb, and even pale with fear, in the presence of pretty Pamela Clemens.
Up in their room the boys could hear the merriment from below and could
look out in the moonlight on the snowy sloping roof that began just
beneath their window. Down at the eaves was the small arbor, green in
summer, but covered now with dead vines and snow. They could hear the
candymakers come out, now and then, doubtless setting out pans of candy
to cool. By and by the whole party seemed to come out into the little
arbor, to try the candy, perhaps the joking and laughter came plainly to
the boys up-stairs. About this time there appeared on the roof from
somewhere two disreputable cats, who set up a most disturbing duel of
charge and recrimination. Jim detested the noise, and perhaps was
gallant enough to think it would disturb the party. He had nothing to
throw at them, but he said:

"For two cents I'd get out there and knock their heads off."

"You wouldn't dare to do it," Sam said, purringly.

This was wormwood to Jim. He was really a brave spirit.

"I would too," he said, "and I will if you say that again."

"Why, Jim, of course you wouldn't dare to go out there. You might catch
cold."

"You wait and see," said Jim Wolfe.

He grabbed a pair of yarn stockings for his feet, raised the window, and
crept out on the snowy roof. There was a crust of ice on the snow, but
Jim jabbed his heels through it and stood up in the moonlight, his legs
bare, his single garment flapping gently in the light winter breeze. Then
he started slowly toward the cats, sinking his heels in the snow each
time for a footing, a piece of lath in his hand. The cats were on the
corner of the roof above the arbor, and Jim cautiously worked his way in
that direction. The roof was not very steep. He was doing well enough
until he came to a place where the snow had melted until it was nearly
solid ice. He was so intent on the cats that he did not notice this, and
when he struck his heel down to break the crust nothing yielded. A
second later Jim's feet had shot out from under him, and he vaulted like
an avalanche down the icy roof out on the little vine-clad arbor, and
went crashing through among those candypullers, gathered there with their
pans of cooling taffy. There were wild shrieks and a general flight.
Neither Jim nor Sam ever knew how he got back to their room, but Jim was
overcome with the enormity of his offense, while Sam was in an agony of
laughter.

"You did it splendidly, Jim," he drawled, when he could speak. "Nobody
could have done it better; and did you see how those cats got out of
there? I never had any idea when you started that you meant to do it
that way. And it was such a surprise to the folks down-stairs. How did
you ever think of it?"

It was a fearful ordeal for a boy like Jim Wolfe, but he stuck to his
place in spite of what he must have suffered. The boys made him one of
them soon after that. His initiation was thought to be complete.

An account of Jim Wolfe and the cats was the first original story Mark
Twain ever told. He told it next day, which was Sunday, to Jimmy
McDaniel, the baker's son, as they sat looking out over the river, eating
gingerbread. His hearer laughed immoderately, and the story-teller was
proud and happy in his success.




XVIII

THE BEGINNING OF A LITERARY LIFE

Orion's paper continued to go downhill. Following some random counsel,
he changed the name of it and advanced the price--two blunders. Then he
was compelled to reduce the subscription, also the advertising rates. He
was obliged to adopt a descending scale of charges and expenditures to
keep pace with his declining circulation--a fatal sign. A publisher must
lead his subscription list, not follow it.

"I was walking backward," he said, "not seeing where I stepped."

In desperation he broke away and made a trip to Tennessee to see if
something could not be realized on the land, leaving his brother Sam in
charge of the office. It was a journey without financial results; yet it
bore fruit, for it marked the beginning of Mark Twain's literary career.

Sam, in his brother's absence, concluded to edit the paper in a way that
would liven up the circulation. He had never done any writing--not for
print--but he had the courage of his inclinations. His local items were
of a kind known as "spicy"; his personals brought prompt demand for
satisfaction. The editor of a rival paper had been in love, and was said
to have gone to the river one night to drown himself. Sam gave a
picturesque account of this, with all the names connected with the
affair. Then he took a couple of big wooden block letters, turned them
upside down, and engraved illustrations for it, showing the victim wading
out into the river with a stick to test the depth of the water. When
this issue of the paper came out the demand for it was very large. The
press had to be kept running steadily to supply copies. The satirized
editor at first swore that he would thrash the whole journal office, then
he left town and did not come back any more. The embryo Mark Twain also
wrote a poem. It was addressed "To Mary in Hannibal," but the title was
too long to be set in one column, so he left out all the letters in
Hannibal, except the first and the last, and supplied their place with a
dash, with a startling result. Such were the early flickerings of a
smoldering genius. Orion returned, remonstrated, and apologized. He
reduced Sam to the ranks. In later years he saw his mistake.

"I could have distanced all competitors even then," he said, "if I had
recognized Sam's ability and let him go ahead, merely keeping him from
offending worthy persons."

Sam was subdued, but not done for. He never would be, now. He had got
his first taste of print, and he liked it. He promptly wrote two
anecdotes which he thought humorous and sent them to the Philadelphia
Saturday Evening Post. They were accepted--without payment, of course,
in those days; and when the papers containing them appeared he felt
suddenly lifted to a lofty plane of literature. This was in 1851.

"Seeing them in print was a joy which rather exceeded anything in that
line I have ever experienced since," he said, nearly sixty years later.

Yet he did not feel inspired to write anything further for the Post.
Twice during the next two years he contributed to the Journal; once
something about Jim Wolfe, though it was not the story of the cats, and
another burlesque on a rival editor whom he pictured as hunting snipe
with a cannon, the explosion of which was said to have blown the snipe
out of the country. No contributions of this time have been preserved.
High prices have been offered for copies of the Hannibal journal
containing them, but without success. The Post sketches were unsigned
and have not been identified. It is likely they were trivial enough. His
earliest work showed no special individuality or merit, being mainly
crude and imitative, as the work of a boy--even a precocious boy--is
likely to be. He was not especially precocious--not in literature. His
literary career would halt and hesitate and trifle along for many years
yet, gathering impetus and equipment for the fuller, statelier swing
which would bring a greater joy to the world at large, even if not to
himself, than that first, far-off triumph.--[In Mark Twain's sketch "My
First Literary Venture" he has set down with characteristic embroideries
some account of this early authorship.]

Those were hard financial days. Orion could pay nothing on his mortgage
--barely the interest. He had promised Sam three dollars and a half a
week, but he could do no more than supply him with board and clothes
--"poor, shabby clothes," he says in his record.

"My mother and sister did the housekeeping. My mother was cook. She
used the provisions I supplied her. We therefore had a regular diet of
bacon, butter, bread, and coffee."

Mrs. Clemens again took a few boarders; Pamela, who had given up teaching
for a time, organized another music class. Orion became despondent. One
night a cow got into the office, upset a typecase, and ate up two
composition rollers. Orion felt that fate was dealing with a heavy hand.
Another disaster quickly followed. Fire broke out in the office, and the
loss was considerable. An insurance company paid one hundred and fifty
dollars. With it Orion replaced such articles as were absolutely needed
for work, and removed his plant into the front room of the Clemens
dwelling. He raised the one-story part of the building to give them an
added room up-stairs; and there for another two years, by hard work and
pinching economies, the dying paper managed to drag along. It was the
fire that furnished Sam Clemens with his Jim Wolfe sketch. In it he
stated that Jim in his excitement had carried the office broom half a
mile and had then come back after the wash-pan.

In the meantime Pamela Clemens married. Her husband was a well-to-do
merchant, William A. Moffett, formerly of Hannibal, but then of St.
Louis, where he had provided her with the comforts of a substantial home.

Orion tried the experiment of a serial story. He wrote to a number of
well-known authors in the East, but was unable to find one who would
supply a serial for the price he was willing to pay. Finally he obtained
a translation of a French novel for the sum offered, which was five
dollars. It did not save the sinking ship, however. He made the
experiment of a tri-weekly, without success. He noticed that even his
mother no longer read his editorials, but turned to the general news.
This was a final blow.

"I sat down in the dark," he says, "the moon glinting in at the open
door. I sat with one leg over the chair and let my mind float."

He had received an offer of five hundred dollars for his office--the
amount of the mortgage--and in his moonlight reverie he decided to
dispose of it on those terms. This was in 1853.

His brother Samuel was no longer with him. Several months before, in
June, Sam decided he would go out into the world. He was in his
eighteenth year now, a good workman, faithful and industrious, but he had
grown restless in unrewarded service. Beyond his mastery of the trade he
had little to show for six years of hard labor. Once when he had asked
Orion for a few dollars to buy a second-hand gun, Orion, exasperated by
desperate circumstances, fell into a passion and rated him for thinking
of such extravagance. Soon afterward Sam confided to his mother that he
was going away; that he believed Orion hated him; that there was no
longer a place for him at home. He said he would go to St. Louis, where
Pamela was. There would be work for him in St. Louis, and he could send
money home. His intention was to go farther than St. Louis, but he dared
not tell her. His mother put together sadly enough the few belongings of
what she regarded as her one wayward boy; then she held up a little
Testament:

"I want you to take hold of the other end of this, Sam," she said, "and
make me a promise."

If one might have a true picture of that scene: the shin, wiry woman of
forty-nine, her figure as straight as her deportment, gray-eyed, tender,
and resolute, facing the fair-cheeked, auburn-haired youth of seventeen,
his eyes as piercing and unwavering as her own. Mother and son, they
were of the same metal and the same mold.

"I want you to repeat after me, Sam, these words," Jane Clemens said. "I
do solemnly swear that I will not throw a card or drink a drop of liquor
while I am gone."

He repeated the oath after her, and she kissed him.

"Remember that, Sam, and write to us," she said.

"And so," Orion records, "he went wandering in search of that comfort and
that advancement and those rewards of industry which he had failed to
find where I was--gloomy, taciturn, and selfish. I not only missed his
labor; we all missed his bounding activity and merriment."




XIX

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FRANKLIN

He went to St. Louis by the night boat, visited his sister Pamela, and
found a job in the composing-room of the Evening News. He remained on
the paper only long enough to earn money with which to see the world. The
"world" was New York City, where the Crystal Palace Fair was then going
on. The railway had been completed by this time, but he had not traveled
on it. It had not many comforts; several days and nights were required
for the New York trip; yet it was a wonderful and beautiful experience.
He felt that even Pet McMurry could hardly have done anything to surpass
it. He arrived in New York with two or three dollars in his pocket and a
ten-dollar bill concealed in the lining of his coat.

New York was a great and amazing city. It almost frightened him. It
covered the entire lower end of Manhattan Island; visionary citizens
boasted that one day it would cover it all. The World's Fair building,
the Crystal Palace, stood a good way out. It was where Bryant Park is
now, on Forty-second Street and Sixth Avenue. Young Clemens classed it
as one of the wonders of the world and wrote lavishly of its marvels. A
portion of a letter to his sister Pamela has been preserved and is given
here not only for what it contains, but as the earliest existing specimen
of his composition. The fragment concludes what was doubtless an
exhaustive description.

    From the gallery (second floor) you have a glorious sight--the flags
    of the different countries represented, the lofty dome, glittering
    jewelry, gaudy tapestry, etc., with the busy crowd passing to and
    fro 'tis a perfect fairy palace--beautiful beyond description.

    The machinery department is on the main floor, but I cannot
    enumerate any of it on account of the lateness of the hour (past 1
    o'clock). It would take more than a week to examine everything on
    exhibition; and I was only in a little over two hours to-night.
    I only glanced at about one-third of the articles; and, having a
    poor memory, I have enumerated scarcely any of even the principal
    objects. The visitors to the Palace average 6,000 daily--double the
    population of Hannibal. The price of admission being 50 cents, they
    take in about $3,000.

    The Latting Observatory (height about 280 feet) is near the Palace
    --from it you can obtain a grand view of the city and the country
    around. The Croton Aqueduct, to supply the city with water, is the
    greatest wonder yet. Immense sewers are laid across the bed of the
    Hudson River, and pass through the country to Westchester County,
    where a whole river is turned from its course and brought to New
    York. From the reservoir in the city to the Westchester County
    reservoir the distance is thirty-eight miles and, if necessary, they
    could easily supply every family in New York with one hundred
    barrels of water per day!

    I am very sorry to learn that Henry has been sick. He ought to go
    to the country and take exercise, for he is not half so healthy as
    Ma thinks he is. If he had my walking to do, he would be another
    boy entirely. Four times every day I walk a little over a mile; and
    working hard all day and walking four miles is exercise. I am used
    to it now, though, and it is no trouble. Where is it Orion's going
    to? Tell Ma my promises are faithfully kept; and if I have my
    health I will take her to Ky. in the spring--I shall save money for
    this. Tell Jim (Wolfe) and all the rest of them to write, and give
    me all the news ....

    (It has just struck 2 A.M., and I always get up at 6, and am at work
    at 7.) You ask where I spend my evenings. Where would you suppose,
    with a free printer's library containing more than 4,000 volumes
    within a quarter of a mile of me, and nobody at home to talk to?
    Write soon.

                  Truly your brother,     SAM

    P.S.-I have written this by a light so dim that you nor Ma could not
    read by it. Write, and let me know how Henry is.

It is a good letter; it is direct and clear in its descriptive quality,
and it gives us a scale of things. Double the population of Hannibal
visited the Crystal Palace in one day! and the water to supply the city
came a distance of thirty-eight miles! Doubtless these were amazing
statistics.

Then there was the interest in family affairs--always strong--his concern
for Henry, whom he loved tenderly; his memory of the promise to his
mother; his understanding of her craving to visit her old home. He did
not write to her direct, for the reason that Orion's plans were then
uncertain, and it was not unlikely that he had already found a new
location. From this letter, too, we learn that the boy who detested
school was reveling in a library of four thousand books--more than he had
ever seen together before. We have somehow the feeling that he had all
at once stepped from boyhood to manhood, and that the separation was
marked by a very definite line.

The work he had secured was in Cliff Street in the printing establishment
of John A. Gray & Green, who agreed to pay him four dollars a week, and
did pay that amount in wildcat money, which saved them about twenty-five
per cent. of the sum. He lodged at a mechanics' boarding-house in Duane
Street, and when he had paid his board and washing he sometimes had as
much as fifty cents to lay away.

He did not like the board. He had been accustomed to the Southern mode
of cooking, and wrote home complaining that New-Yorkers did not have
"hot-bread" or biscuits, but ate "light-bread," which they allowed to get
stale, seeming to prefer it in that way. On the whole, there was not
much inducement to remain in New York after he had satisfied himself with
its wonders. He lingered, however, through the hot months of 1853, and
found it not easy to go. In October he wrote to Pamela, suggesting plans
for Orion; also for Henry and Jim Wolfe, whom he seems never to have
overlooked. Among other things he says:

    I have not written to any of the family for some time, from the
    fact, firstly, that I didn't know where they were, and, secondly,
    because I have been fooling myself with the idea that I was going to
    leave New York every day for the last two weeks. I have taken a
    liking to the abominable place, and every time I get ready to leave
    I put it off a day or so, from some unaccountable cause. I think I
    shall get off Tuesday, though.

    Edwin Forrest has been playing for the last sixteen days at the
    Broadway Theater, but I never went to see him till last night. The
    play was the "Gladiator." I did not like parts of it much, but
    other portions were really splendid. In the latter part of the last
    act, where the "Gladiator" (Forrest) dies at his brother's feet (in
    all the fierce pleasure of gratified revenge), the man's whole soul
    seems absorbed in the part he is playing; and it is really startling
    to see him. I am sorry I did not see him play "Damon and Pythias"
    --the former character being the greatest. He appears in Philadelphia
    on Monday night.

    I have not received a letter from home lately, but got a "Journal"
    the other day, in which I see the office has been sold . . . .

    If my letters do not come often, you need not bother yourself about
    me; for if you have a brother nearly eighteen years of age who is
    not able to take care of himself a few miles from home, such a
    brother is not worth one's thoughts; and if I don't manage to take
    care of No. 1, be assured you will never know it. I am not afraid,
    however; I shall ask favors of no one and endeavor to be (and shall
    be) as "independent as a wood-sawyer's clerk.". . .

    Passage to Albany (160 miles) on the finest steamers that ply the
    Hudson is now 25 cents--cheap enough, but is generally cheaper than
    that in the summer.

"I have been fooling myself with the idea that I was going to leave New
York" is distinctly a Mark Twain phrase. He might have said that fifty
years later.

He did go to Philadelphia presently and found work "subbing" on a daily
paper,'The Inquirer.' He was a fairly swift compositor. He could set
ten thousand ems a day, and he received pay according to the amount of
work done. Days or evenings when there was no vacant place for him to
fill he visited historic sites, the art-galleries, and the libraries. He
was still acquiring education, you see. Sometimes at night when he
returned to his boardinghouse his room-mate, an Englishman named Sumner,
grilled a herring, and this was regarded as a feast. He tried his hand
at writing in Philadelphia, though this time without success. For some
reason he did not again attempt to get into the Post, but offered his
contributions to the Philadelphia 'Ledger'--mainly poetry of an obituary
kind. Perhaps it was burlesque; he never confessed that, but it seems
unlikely that any other obituary poetry would have failed of print.

"My efforts were not received with approval," was all he ever said of it
afterward.

There were two or three characters in the 'Inquirer' office whom he did
not forget. One of these was an old compositor who had "held a case" in
that office for many years. His name was Frog, and sometimes when he
went away the "office devils" would hang a line over his case, with a
hook on it baited with a piece of red flannel. They never got tired of
this joke, and Frog was always able to get as mad over it as he had been
in the beginning. Another old fellow there furnished amusement. He
owned a house in the distant part of the city and had an abnormal fear of
fire. Now and then, when everything was quiet except the clicking of the
types, some one would step to the window and say with a concerned air:

"Doesn't that smoke--[or that light, if it was evening]--seem to be in
the northwestern part of the city?" or "There go the fire-bells again!"
and away the old man would tramp up to the roof to investigate. It was
not the most considerate sport, and it is to be feared that Sam Clemens
had his share in it.

He found that he liked Philadelphia. He could save a little money there,
for one thing, and now and then sent something to his mother--small
amounts, but welcome and gratifying, no doubt. In a letter to Orion
--whom he seems to have forgiven with absence--written October 26th, he
incloses a gold dollar to buy her a handkerchief, and "to serve as a
specimen of the kind of stuff we are paid with in Philadelphia." Further
along he adds:

    Unlike New York, I like this Philadelphia amazingly, and the people
    in it. There is only one thing that gets my "dander" up--and that
    is the hands are always encouraging me: telling me "it's no use to
    get discouraged--no use to be downhearted, for there is more work
    here than you can do!" "Downhearted," the devil! I have not had a
    particle of such a feeling since I left Hannibal, more than four
    months ago. I fancy they'll have to wait some time till they see me
    downhearted or afraid of starving while I have strength to work and
    am in a city of 400,000 inhabitants. When I was in Hannibal, before
    I had scarcely stepped out of the town limits, nothing could have
    convinced me that I would starve as soon as I got a little way from
    home.

He mentions the grave of Franklin in Christ Churchyard with its
inscription "Benjamin and Deborah Franklin," and one is sharply reminded
of the similarity between the early careers of Benjamin Franklin and
Samuel Clemens. Each learned the printer's trade; each worked in his
brother's printing-office and wrote for the paper; each left quietly and
went to New York, and from New York to Philadelphia, as a journeyman
printer; each in due season became a world figure, many-sided, human, and
of incredible popularity.

The foregoing letter ends with a long description of a trip made on the
Fairmount stage. It is a good, vivid description--impressions of a
fresh, sensitive mind, set down with little effort at fine writing; a
letter to convey literal rather than literary enjoyment. The Wire
Bridge, Fairmount Park and Reservoir, new buildings--all these passed in
review. A fine residence about completed impressed him:

    It was built entirely of great blocks of red granite. The pillars
    in front were all finished but one. These pillars were beautiful,
    ornamental fluted columns, considerably larger than a hogshead at
    the base, and about as high as Clapinger's second-story front
    windows . . . . To see some of them finished and standing, and
    then the huge blocks lying about, looks so massy, and carries one,
    in imagination, to the ruined piles of ancient Babylon. I despise
    the infernal bogus brick columns plastered over with mortar. Marble
    is the cheapest building-stone about Philadelphia.

There is a flavor of the 'Innocents' about it; then a little further
along:

    I saw small steamboats, with their signs up--"For Wissahickon and
    Manayunk 25 cents." Geo. Lippard, in his Legends of Washington and
    his Generals, has rendered the Wissahickon sacred in my eyes, and I
    shall make that trip, as well as one to Germantown, soon . . . .

    There is one fine custom observed in Phila. A gentleman is always
    expected to hand up a lady's money for her. Yesterday I sat in the
    front end of the bus, directly under the driver's box--a lady sat
    opposite me. She handed me her money, which was right. But, Lord!
    a St. Louis lady would think herself ruined if she should be so
    familiar with a stranger. In St. Louis a man will sit in the front
    end of the stage, and see a lady stagger from the far end to pay her
    fare.

There are two more letters from Philadelphia: one of November, 28th, to
Orion, who by this time had bought a paper in Muscatine, Iowa, and
located the family there; and one to Pamela dated December 5th. Evidently
Orion had realized that his brother might be of value as a contributor,
for the latter says:

    I will try to write for the paper occasionally, but I fear my
    letters will be very uninteresting, for this incessant night work
    dulls one's ideas amazingly.... I believe I am the only person in
    the Inquirer office that does not drink. One young fellow makes $18
    for a few weeks, and gets on a grand "bender" and spends every cent
    of it.

    How do you like "free soil"?--I would like amazingly to see a good
    old-fashioned negro. My love to all.

                  Truly your brother,     SAM

In the letter to Pamela he is clearly homesick.

"I only want to return to avoid night work, which is injuring my eyes,"
is the excuse, but in the next sentence he complains of the scarcity of
letters from home and those "not written as they should be." "One only
has to leave home to learn how to write interesting letters to an absent
friend," he says, and in conclusion, "I don't like our present prospect
for cold weather at all."

He had been gone half a year, and the first attack of home-longing, for a
boy of his age, was due. The novelty of things had worn off; it was
coming on winter; changes had taken place among his home people and
friends; the life he had known best and longest was going on and he had
no part in it. Leaning over his case, he sometimes hummed:

    "An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain."

He weathered the attack and stuck it out for more than half a year
longer. In January, when the days were dark and he grew depressed, he
made a trip to Washington to see the sights of the capital. His stay was
comparatively brief, and he did not work there. He returned to
Philadelphia, working for a time on the Ledger and North American.
Finally he went back to New York. There are no letters of this period.
His second experience in New York appears not to have been recorded, and
in later years was only vaguely remembered. It was late in the summer of
1854 when he finally set out on his return to the West. His 'Wanderjahr'
had lasted nearly fifteen months.

He went directly to St. Louis, sitting up three days and nights in a
smoking-car to make the journey. He was worn out when he arrived, but
stopped there only a few hours to see Pamela. It was his mother he was
anxious for. He took the Keokuk Packet that night, and, flinging himself
on his berth, slept the clock three times around, scarcely rousing or
turning over, only waking at last at Muscatine. For a long time that
missing day confused his calculations.

When he reached Orion's house the family sat at breakfast. He came in
carrying a gun. They had not been expecting him, and there was a general
outcry, and a rush in his direction. He warded them off, holding the
butt of the gun in front of him.

"You wouldn't let me buy a gun," he said, "so I bought one myself, and I
am going to use it, now, in self-defense."

"You, Sam! You, Sam!" cried Jane Clemens. "Behave yourself," for she
was wary of a gun.

Then he had had his joke and gave himself into his mother's arms.




XX

KEOKUK DAYS

Orion wished his brother to remain with him in the Muscatine office, but
the young man declared he must go to St. Louis and earn some money before
he would be able to afford that luxury: He returned to his place on the
St. Louis Evening News, where he remained until late winter or early
spring of the following year.

He lived at this time with a Pavey family, probably one of the Hannibal
Paveys, rooming with a youth named Frank E. Burrough, a journeyman
chair-maker with a taste for Dickens, Thackeray, Scott, and Disraeli.
Burrough had really a fine literary appreciation for his years, and the
boys were comrades and close friends. Twenty-two years later Mark Twain
exchanged with Burrough some impressions of himself at that earlier time.
Clemens wrote:

    MY DEAR BURROUGH,--As you describe me I can picture myself as I was
    22 years ago. The portrait is correct. You think I have grown
    some; upon my word there was room for it. You have described a
    callow fool, a self-sufficient ass, a mere human tumble-bug, stern
    in air, heaving at his bit of dung, imagining that he is remodeling
    the world and is entirely capable of doing it right.... That is
    what I was at 19-20.

Orion Clemens in the mean time had married and removed to Keokuk. He had
married during a visit to that city, in the casual, impulsive way so
characteristic of him, and the fact that he had acquired a wife in the
operation seemed at first to have escaped his inner consciousness. He
tells it himself; he says:

    At sunrise on the next morning after the wedding we left in a stage
    for Muscatine. We halted for dinner at Burlington. After
    despatching that meal we stood on the pavement when the stage drove
    up, ready for departure. I climbed in, gathered the buffalo robe
    around me, and leaned back unconscious that I had anything further
    to do. A gentleman standing on the pavement said to my wife, "Miss,
    do you go by this stage?" I said, "Oh, I forgot!" and sprang out
    and helped her in. A wife was a new kind of possession to which I
    had not yet become accustomed; I had forgotten her.

Orion's wife had been Mary Stotts; her mother a friend of Jane Clemens's
girlhood. She proved a faithful helpmate to Orion; but in those early
days of marriage she may have found life with him rather trying, and it
was her homesickness that brought them to Keokuk. Brother Sam came up
from St. Louis, by and by, to visit them, and Orion offered him five
dollars a week and board to remain. He accepted. The office at this
time, or soon after, was located on the third floor of 52 Main Street, in
the building at present occupied by the Paterson Shoe Company. Henry
Clemens, now seventeen, was also in Orion's employ, and a lad by the name
of Dick Hingham. Henry and Sam slept in the office, and Dick came in for
social evenings. Also a young man named Edward Brownell, who clerked in
the book-store on the ground floor.

These were likely to be lively evenings. A music dealer and teacher,
Professor Isbell, occupied the floor just below, and did not care for
their diversions. He objected, but hardly in the right way. Had he gone
to Samuel Clemens gently, he undoubtedly would have found him willing to
make any concessions. Instead, he assailed him roughly, and the next
evening the boys set up a lot of empty wine-bottles, which they had found
in a barrel in a closet, and, with stones for balls, played tenpins on
the office floor. This was Dick and Sam; Henry declined to join the
game. Isbell rushed up-stairs and battered on the door, but they paid no
attention. Next morning he waited for the young men and denounced them
wildly. They merely ignored him, and that night organized a military
company, made up of themselves and a new German apprentice-boy, and
drilled up and down over the singing-class. Dick Hingham led these
military manoeuvers. He was a girlish sort of a fellow, but he had a
natural taste for soldiering. The others used to laugh at him. They
called him a disguised girl, and declared he would run if a gun were
really pointed in his direction. They were mistaken; seven years later
Dick died at Fort Donelson with a bullet in his forehead: this, by the
way.

Isbell now adopted new tactics. He came up very pleasantly and said:

"I like your military practice better than your tenpin exercise, but on
the whole it seems to disturb the young ladies. You see how it is
yourself. You couldn't possibly teach music with a company of raw
recruits drilling overhead--now, could you? Won't you please stop it? It
bothers my pupils."

Sam Clemens regarded him with mild surprise.

"Does it?" he said, very deliberately. "Why didn't you mention it
before? To be sure we don't want to disturb the young ladies."

They gave up the horse-play, and not only stopped the disturbance, but
joined one of the singing--classes. Samuel Clemens had a pretty good
voice in those days and could drum fairly well on a piano and guitar. He
did not become a brilliant musician, but he was easily the most popular
member of the singing-class.

They liked his frank nature, his jokes, and his humor; his slow, quaint
fashion of speech. The young ladies called him openly and fondly a
"fool"--a term of endearment, as they applied it meaning only that he
kept them in a more or less constant state of wonder and merriment; and
indeed it would have been hard for them to say whether he was really
light-minded and frivolous or the wisest of them all. He was twenty now
and at the age for love-making; yet he remained, as in Hannibal, a beau
rather than a suitor, good friend and comrade to all, wooer of none. Ella
Creel, a cousin on the Lampton side, a great belle; also Ella Patterson
(related through Orion's wife and generally known as "Ick"), and Belle
Stotts were perhaps his favorite companions, but there were many more.
He was always ready to stop and be merry with them, full of his pranks
and pleasantries; though they noticed that he quite often carried a book
under his arm--a history or a volume of Dickens or the tales of Edgar
Allan Poe.

He read at odd moments; at night voluminously--until very late,
sometimes. Already in that early day it was his habit to smoke in bed,
and he had made him an Oriental pipe of the hubble-bubble variety,
because it would hold more and was more comfortable than the regular
short pipe of daytime use.

But it had its disadvantages. Sometimes it would go out, and that would
mean sitting up and reaching for a match and leaning over to light the
bowl which stood on the floor. Young Brownell from below was passing
upstairs to his room on the fourth floor one night when he heard Sam
Clemens call. The two were great chums by this time, and Brownell poked
his head in at the door.

"What will you have, Sam?" he asked.

"Come in, Ed; Henry's asleep, and I am in trouble. I want somebody to
light my pipe."

"Why don't you get up and light it yourself?" Brownell asked.

"I would, only I knew you'd be along in a few minutes and would do it for
me."

Brownell scratched the necessary match, stooped down, and applied it.

"What are you reading, Sam?" he asked.

"Oh, nothing much--a so-called funny book--one of these days I'll write a
funnier book than that, myself."

Brownell laughed.

"No, you won't, Sam," he said. "You are too lazy ever to write a book."

A good many years later when the name "Mark Twain" had begun to stand for
American humor the owner of it gave his "Sandwich Island" lecture in
Keokuk. Speaking of the unreliability of the islanders, he said: "The
king is, I believe, one of the greatest liars on the face of the earth,
except one; and I am very sorry to locate that one right here in the city
of Keokuk, in the person of Ed Brownell."

The Keokuk episode in Mark Twain's life was neither very long nor very
actively important. It extended over a period of less than two years
--two vital years, no doubt, if all the bearings could be known--but they
were not years of startling occurrence.

Yet he made at least one beginning there: at a printers' banquet he
delivered his first after-dinner speech; a hilarious speech--its humor of
a primitive kind. Whatever its shortcomings, it delighted his audience,
and raised him many points in the public regard. He had entered a field
of entertainment in which he would one day have no rival. They impressed
him into a debating society after that, and there was generally a stir of
attention when Sam Clemens was about to take the floor.

Orion Clemens records how his brother undertook to teach the German
apprentice music.

"There was an old guitar in the office and Sam taught Fritz a song
beginning:

    "Grasshopper sitting on a sweet-potato vine,
    Turkey came along and yanked him from behind."

The main point in the lesson was in giving to the word "yanked" the
proper expression and emphasis, accompanied by a sweep of the fingers
across the strings. With serious face and deep earnestness Fritz in his
broken English would attempt these lines, while his teacher would bend
over and hold his sides with laughter at each ridiculous effort. Without
intending it, Fritz had his revenge. One day his tormentor's hand was
caught in the press when the German boy was turning the wheel. Sam
called to him to stop, but the boy's mind was slow to grasp the
situation. The hand was badly wounded, though no bones were broken. In
due time it recovered, its power and dexterity, but the trace of the
scars remained.

Orion's printing-office was not a prosperous one; he had not the gift of
prosperity in any form. When he found it difficult to pay his brother's
wages, he took him into partnership, which meant that Sam got no wages at
all, barely a living, for the office could not keep its head above water.

The junior partner was not disturbed, however. He cared little for money
in those days, beyond his actual needs, and these were modest enough. His
mother, now with Pamela, was amply provided for. Orion himself tells how
his business dwindled away. He printed a Keokuk directory, but it did
not pay largely. He was always too eager for the work; too low in his
bid for it. Samuel Clemens in this directory is set down as "an
antiquarian" a joke, of course, though the point of it is now lost.

Only two of his Keokuk letters have been preserved. The first indicates
the general disorder of the office and a growing dissatisfaction. It is
addressed to his mother and sister and bears date of June 10, 1856.

    I don't like to work at too many things at once. They take Henry
    and Dick away from me, too. Before we commenced the Directory,
    --[Orion printed two editions of the directory. This was probably
    the second one.]--I could tell before breakfast just how much work
    could be done during the day, and manage accordingly--but now, they
    throw all my plans into disorder by taking my hands away from their
    work.... I am not getting along well with the job-work. I can't
    work blindly--without system. I gave Dick a job yesterday, which I
    calculated he could set in two hours and I could work off on the
    press in three, and therefore just finish it by supper-time, but he
    was transferred to the Directory, and the job, promised this
    morning, remains untouched. Through all the great pressure of job-
    work lately, I never before failed in a promise of the kind . . .

The other letter is dated two months later, August 5th. It was written
to Henry, who was visiting in St. Louis or Hannibal at the time, and
introduces the first mention of the South American fever, which now
possessed the writer. Lynch and Herndon had completed their survey of
the upper Amazon, and Lieutenant Herndon's account of the exploration was
being widely read. Poring over the book nights, young Clemens had been
seized with a desire to go to the headwaters of the South American river,
there to collect coca and make a fortune. All his life he was subject to
such impulses as that, and ways and means were not always considered. It
did not occur to him that it would be difficult to get to the Amazon and
still more difficult to ascend the river. It was his nature to see
results with a dazzling largeness that blinded him to the detail of their
achievement. In the "Turning-point" article already mentioned he refers
to this. He says:

    That was more than fifty years ago. In all that time my temperament
    has not changed by even a shade. I have been punished many and many
    a time, and bitterly, for doing things and reflecting afterward, but
    these tortures have been of no value to me; I still do the thing
    commanded by Circumstance and Temperament, and reflect afterward.
    Always violently. When I am reflecting on these occasions, even
    deaf persons can hear me think.

In the letter to Henry we see that his resolve was already made, his
plans matured; also that Orion had not as yet been taken into full
confidence.

    Ma knows my determination, but even she counsels me to keep it from
    Orion. She says I can treat him as I did her when I started to St.
    Louis and went to New York--I can start for New York and go to South
    America.

He adds that Orion had promised him fifty or one hundred dollars, but
that he does not depend upon it, and will make other arrangements. He
fears obstacles may be put in his way, and he will bring various
influences to bear.

    I shall take care that Ma and Orion are plentifully supplied with
    South American books: They have Herndon's report now. Ward and the
    Dr. and myself will hold a grand consultation to-night at the
    office. We have agreed that no more shall be admitted into our
    company.

He had enlisted those two adventurers in his enterprise: a Doctor Martin
and the young man, Ward. They were very much in earnest, but the start
was not made as planned, most likely for want of means.

Young Clemens, however, did not give up the idea. He made up his mind to
work in the direction of his desire, following his trade and laying by
money for the venture. But Fate or Providence or Accident--whatever we
may choose to call the unaccountable--stepped in just then, and laid
before him the means of turning another sharp corner in his career. One
of those things happened which we refuse to accept in fiction as
possible; but fact has a smaller regard for the credibilities.

As in the case of the Joan of Arc episode (and this adds to its marvel),
it was the wind that brought the talismanic gift. It was a day in early
November--bleak, bitter, and gusty, with curling snow; most persons were
indoors. Samuel Clemens, going down Main Street, saw a flying bit of
paper pass him and lodge against the side of a building. Something about
it attracted him and he captured it. It was a fifty-dollar bill. He had
never seen one before, but he recognized it. He thought he must be
having a pleasant dream.

The temptation came to pocket his good-fortune and say nothing. His need
of money was urgent, but he had also an urgent and troublesome
conscience; in the end he advertised his find.

"I didn't describe it very particularly, and I waited in daily fear that
the owner would turn up and take away my fortune. By and by I couldn't
stand it any longer. My conscience had gotten all that was coming to it.
I felt that I must take that money out of danger."

In the "Turning-point" article he says: "I advertised the find and left
for the Amazon the same day," a statement which we may accept with a
literary discount.

As a matter of fact, he remained ample time and nobody ever came for the
money. It may have been swept out of a bank or caught up by the wind
from some counting-room table. It may have materialized out of the
unseen--who knows? At all events it carried him the first stage of a
journey, the end of which he little dreamed.




XXI

SCOTCHMAN NAMED MACFARLANE

He concluded to go to Cincinnati, which would be on the way either to New
York or New Orleans (he expected to sail from one of these points), but
first paid a brief visit to his mother in St. Louis, for he had a far
journey and along absence in view. Jane Clemens made him renew his
promise as to cards and liquor, and gave him her blessing. He had
expected to go from St. Louis to Cincinnati, but a new idea--a literary
idea--came to him, and he returned to Keokuk. The Saturday Post, a
Keokuk weekly, was a prosperous sheet giving itself certain literary
airs. He was in favor with the management, of which George Rees was the
head, and it had occurred to him that he could send letters of his
travels to the Post--for, a consideration. He may have had a still
larger ambition; at least, the possibility of a book seems to have been
in his consciousness. Rees agreed to take letters from him at five
dollars each--good payment for that time and place. The young traveler,
jubilant in the prospect of receiving money for literature, now made
another start, this time by way of Quincy, Chicago, and Indianapolis
according to his first letter in the Post.--[Supplied by Thomas Rees, of
the Springfield (Illinois) Register, son of George Rees named.]

This letter is dated Cincinnati, November 14, 1856, and it is not a
promising literary production. It was written in the exaggerated dialect
then regarded as humorous, and while here and there are flashes of the
undoubted Mark Twain type, they are few and far between. The genius that
a little more than ten years later would delight the world flickered
feebly enough at twenty-one. The letter is a burlesque account of the
trip to Cincinnati. A brief extract from it, as characteristic as any,
will serve.

    I went down one night to the railroad office there, purty close onto
    the Laclede House, and bought about a quire o' yaller paper, cut up
    into tickets--one for each railroad in the United States, I thought,
    but I found out afterwards that the Alexandria and Boston Air-Line
    was left out--and then got a baggage feller to take my trunk down to
    the boat, where he spilled it out on the levee, bustin' it open and
    shakin' out the contents, consisting of "guides" to Chicago, and
    "guides" to Cincinnati, and travelers' guides, and all kinds of sich
    books, not excepting a "guide to heaven," which last aint much use
    to a Teller in Chicago, I kin tell you. Finally, that fast packet
    quit ringing her bell, and started down the river--but she hadn't
    gone morn a mile, till she ran clean up on top of a sand-bar, whar
    she stuck till plum one o'clock, spite of the Captain's swearin'
    --and they had to set the whole crew to cussin' at last afore they
    got her off.

This is humor, we may concede, of that early American type which a little
later would have its flower in Nasby and Artemus Ward. Only careful
examination reveals in it a hint of the later Mark Twain. The letters
were signed "Snodgrass," and there are but two of them. The second,
dated exactly four months after the first, is in the same assassinating
dialect, and recounts among other things the scarcity of coal in
Cincinnati and an absurd adventure in which Snodgrass has a baby left on
his hands.

From the fewness of the letters we may assume that Snodgrass found them
hard work, and it is said he raised on the price. At all events, the
second concluded the series. They are mainly important in that they are
the first of his contributions that have been preserved; also the first
for which he received a cash return.

He secured work at his trade in Cincinnati at the printing-office of
Wrightson & Co., and remained there until April, 1857. That winter in
Cincinnati was eventless enough, but it was marked by one notable
association--one that beyond doubt forwarded Samuel Clemens's general
interest in books, influenced his taste, and inspired in him certain
views and philosophies which he never forgot.

He lodged at a cheap boarding-house filled with the usual commonplace
people, with one exception. This exception was a long, lank, unsmiling
Scotchman named Macfarlane, who was twice as old as Clemens and wholly
unlike him--without humor or any comprehension of it. Yet meeting on the
common plane of intellect, the two became friends. Clemens spent his
evenings in Macfarlane's room until the clock struck ten; then Macfarlane
grilled a herring, just as the Englishman Sumner in Philadelphia had done
two years before, and the evening ended.

Macfarlane had books, serious books: histories, philosophies, and
scientific works; also a Bible and a dictionary. He had studied these
and knew them by heart; he was a direct and diligent talker. He never
talked of himself, and beyond the statement that he had acquired his
knowledge from reading, and not at school, his personality was a mystery.
He left the house at six in the morning and returned at the same hour in
the evening. His hands were hardened from some sort of toil-mechanical
labor, his companion thought, but he never knew. He would have liked to
know, and he watched for some reference to slip out that would betray
Macfarlane's trade; but this never happened.

What he did learn was that Macfarlane was a veritable storehouse of
abstruse knowledge; a living dictionary, and a thinker and philosopher
besides. He had at least one vanity: the claim that he knew every word
in the English dictionary, and he made it good. The younger man tried
repeatedly to discover a word that Macfarlane could not define.

Perhaps Macfarlane was vain of his other mental attainments, for he never
tired of discoursing upon deep and grave matters, and his companion never
tired of listening. This Scotch philosopher did not always reflect the
conclusions of others; he had speculated deeply and strikingly on his own
account. That was a good while before Darwin and Wallace gave out--their
conclusions on the Descent of Man; yet Macfarlane was already advancing a
similar philosophy. He went even further: Life, he said, had been
developed in the course of ages from a few microscopic seed-germs--from
one, perhaps, planted by the Creator in the dawn of time, and that from
this beginning development on an ascending scale had finally produced
man. Macfarlane said that the scheme had stopped there, and failed; that
man had retrograded; that man's heart was the only bad one in the animal
kingdom: that man was the only animal capable of malice, vindictiveness,
drunkenness--almost the only animal that could endure personal
uncleanliness. He said that man's intellect was a depraving addition to
him which, in the end, placed him in a rank far below the other beasts,
though it enabled him to keep them in servitude and captivity, along with
many members of his own race.

They were long, fermenting discourses that young Samuel Clemens listened
to that winter in Macfarlane's room, and those who knew the real Mark
Twain and his philosophies will recognize that those evenings left their
impress upon him for life.




XXII

THE OLD CALL OF THE RIVER

When spring came, with budding life and quickening impulses; when the
trees in the parks began to show a hint of green, the Amazonian idea
developed afresh, and the would-be coca-hunter prepared for his
expedition. He had saved a little money--enough to take him to New
Orleans--and he decided to begin his long trip with a peaceful journey
down the Mississippi, for once, at least, to give himself up to that
indolent luxury of the majestic stream that had been so large a part of
his early dreams.

The Ohio River steamers were not the most sumptuous craft afloat, but
they were slow and hospitable. The winter had been bleak and hard.
"Spring fever" and a large love of indolence had combined in that drowsy
condition which makes one willing to take his time.

Mark Twain tells us in Life on the Mississippi that he "ran away," vowing
never to return until he could come home a pilot, shedding glory. This
is a literary statement. The pilot ambition had never entirely died; but
it was coca and the Amazon that were uppermost in his head when he
engaged passage on the Paul Jones for New Orleans, and so conferred
immortality on that ancient little craft. He bade good-by to Macfarlane,
put his traps aboard, the bell rang, the whistle blew, the gang-plank was
hauled in, and he had set out on a voyage that was to continue not for a
week or a fortnight, but for four years--four marvelous, sunlit years,
the glory of which would color all that followed them.

In the Mississippi book the author conveys the impression of being then a
boy of perhaps seventeen. Writing from that standpoint he records
incidents that were more or less inventions or that happened to others.
He was, in reality, considerably more than twenty-one years old, for it
was in April, 1857, that he went aboard the Paul Jones; and he was fairly
familiar with steamboats and the general requirements of piloting. He
had been brought up in a town that turned out pilots; he had heard the
talk of their trade. One at least of the Bowen boys was already on the
river while Sam Clemens was still a boy in Hannibal, and had often been
home to air his grandeur and dilate on the marvel of his work. That
learning the river was no light task Sam Clemens very well knew.
Nevertheless, as the little boat made its drowsy way down the river into
lands that grew ever pleasanter with advancing spring, the old "permanent
ambition" of boyhood stirred again, and the call of the far-away Amazon,
with its coca and its variegated zoology, grew faint.

Horace Bixby, pilot of the Paul Jones, then a man of thirty-two, still
living (1910) and at the wheel,--[The writer of this memoir interviewed
Mr. Bixby personally, and has followed his phrasing throughout.]--was
looking out over the bow at the head of Island No. 35 when he heard a
slow, pleasant voice say:

"Good morning."

Bixby was a clean-cut, direct, courteous man.

"Good morning, sir," he said, briskly, without looking around.

As a rule Mr. Bixby did not care for visitors in the pilot-house. This
one presently came up and stood a little behind him.

"How would you like a young man to learn the river?" he said.

The pilot glanced over his shoulder and saw a rather slender,
loose-limbed young fellow with a fair, girlish complexion and a great
tangle of auburn hair.

"I wouldn't like it. Cub pilots are more trouble than they're worth. A
great deal more trouble than profit."

The applicant was not discouraged.

"I am a printer by trade," he went on, in his easy, deliberate way. "It
doesn't agree with me. I thought I'd go to South America."

Bixby kept his eye on the river; but a note of interest crept into his
voice.

"What makes you pull your words that way?" ("pulling" being the river
term for drawling), he asked.

The young man had taken a seat on the visitors' bench.

"You'll have to ask my mother," he said, more slowly than ever. "She
pulls hers, too."

Pilot Bixby woke up and laughed; he had a keen sense of humor, and the
manner of the reply amused him. His guest made another advance.

"Do you know the Bowen boys?" he asked--"pilots in the St. Louis and New
Orleans trade?"

"I know them well--all three of them. William Bowen did his first
steering for me; a mighty good boy, too. Had a Testament in his pocket
when he came aboard; in a week's time he had swapped it for a pack of
cards. I know Sam, too, and Bart."

"Old schoolmates of mine in Hannibal. Sam and Will especially were my
chums."

"Come over and stand by the side of me," he said. "What is your name?"

The applicant told him, and the two stood looking at the sunlit water.

"Do you drink?"

"No."

"Do you gamble?"

"No, Sir."

"Do you swear?"

"Not for amusement; only under pressure."

"Do you chew?"

"No, sir, never; but I must smoke."

"Did you ever do any steering?" was Bixby's next question.

"I have steered everything on the river but a steamboat, I guess."

"Very well; take the wheel and see what you can do with a steamboat. Keep
her as she is--toward that lower cottonwood, snag."

Bixby had a sore foot and was glad of a little relief. He sat down on
the bench and kept a careful eye on the course. By and by he said:

"There is just one way that I would take a young man to learn the river:
that is, for money."

"What do you charge?"

"Five hundred dollars, and I to be at no expense whatever."

In those days pilots were allowed to carry a learner, or "cub," board
free. Mr. Bixby meant that he was to be at no expense in port, or for
incidentals. His terms looked rather discouraging.

"I haven't got five hundred dollars in money," Sam said; "I've got a lot
of Tennessee land worth twenty-five cents an acre; I'll give you two
thousand acres of that."

Bixby dissented.

"No; I don't want any unimproved real estate. I have too much already."

Sam reflected upon the amount he could probably borrow from Pamela's
husband without straining his credit.

"Well, then, I'll give you one hundred dollars cash and the rest when I
earn it."

Something about this young man had won Horace Bixby's heart. His slow,
pleasant speech; his unhurried, quiet manner with the wheel, his evident
sincerity of purpose--these were externals, but beneath them the pilot
felt something of that quality of mind or heart which later made the
world love Mark Twain. The terms proposed were agreed upon. The
deferred payments were to begin when the pupil had learned the river and
was receiving pilot's wages. During Mr. Bixby's daylight watches his
pupil was often at the wheel, that trip, while the pilot sat directing
him and nursing his sore foot. Any literary ambitions Samuel Clemens may
have had grew dim; by the time they had reached New Orleans he had almost
forgotten he had been a printer, and when he learned that no ship would
be sailing to the Amazon for an indefinite period the feeling grew that a
directing hand had taken charge of his affairs.

From New Orleans his chief did not return to Cincinnati, but went to St.
Louis, taking with him his new cub, who thought it fine, indeed, to come
steaming up to that great city with its thronging water-front; its levee
fairly packed with trucks, drays, and piles of freight, the whole flanked
with a solid mile of steamboats lying side by side, bow a little
up-stream, their belching stacks reared high against the blue--a towering
front of trade. It was glorious to nose one's way to a place in that
stately line, to become a unit, however small, of that imposing fleet. At
St. Louis Sam borrowed from Mr. Moffett the funds necessary to make up
his first payment, and so concluded his contract. Then, when he suddenly
found himself on a fine big boat, in a pilot-house so far above the water
that he seemed perched on a mountain--a "sumptuous temple"--his happiness
seemed complete.




XXIII

THE SUPREME SCIENCE

In his Mississippi book Mark Twain has given us a marvelous exposition of
the science of river-piloting, and of the colossal task of acquiring and
keeping a knowledge requisite for that work. He has not exaggerated this
part of the story of developments in any detail; he has set down a simple
confession.

Serenely enough he undertook the task of learning twelve hundred miles of
the great changing, shifting river as exactly and as surely by daylight
or darkness as one knows the way to his own features. As already
suggested, he had at least an inkling of what that undertaking meant. His
statement that he "supposed all that a pilot had to do was to keep his
boat in the river" is not to be accepted literally. Still he could
hardly have realized the full majesty of his task; nobody could do that
--not until afterward.

Horace Bixby was a "lightning" pilot with a method of instruction as
direct and forcible as it was effective. He was a small man, hot and
quick-firing, though kindly, too, and gentle when he had blown off. After
one rather pyrotechnic misunderstanding as to the manner of imparting and
acquiring information he said:

"My boy, you must get a little memorandum-book, and every time I tell you
a thing put it down right away. There's only one way to be a pilot, and
that is to get this entire river by heart. You have to know it just like
A B C."

So Sam Clemens got the little book, and presently it "fairly bristled"
with the names of towns, points, bars, islands, bends, and reaches, but
it made his heart ache to think that he had only half of the river set
down; for, as the "watches" were four hours off and four hours on, there
were long gaps during which he had slept.

The little note-book still exists--thin and faded, with black water-proof
covers--its neat, tiny, penciled notes still, telling, the story of that
first trip. Most of them are cryptographic abbreviations, not readily
deciphered now. Here and there is an easier line:

                   MERIWEATHER'S BEND

    1/4 less 3--[Depth of water. One-quarter less than three
    fathoms.]----run shape of upper bar and go into the low place in
    willows about 200(ft.) lower down than last year.

One simple little note out of hundreds far more complicated. It would
take days for the average mind to remember even a single page of such
statistics. And those long four-hour gaps where he had been asleep, they
are still there, and somehow, after more than fifty years, the old
heart-ache is still in them. He got a new book, maybe, for the next
trip, and laid this one away.

There is but one way to account for the fact that the man whom the world
knew as Mark Twain--dreamy, unpractical, and indifferent to details--ever
persisted in acquiring knowledge like that--in the vast, the absolutely
limitless quantity necessary to Mississippi piloting. It lies in the
fact that he loved the river in its every mood and aspect and detail, and
not only the river, but a steam boat; and still more, perhaps, the
freedom of the pilot's life and its prestige. Wherever he has written of
the river--and in one way or another he was always writing of it we feel
the claim of the old captivity and that it still holds him. In the
Huckleberry Finn book, during those nights and days with Huck and Nigger
Jim on the raft--whether in stormlit blackness, still noontide, or the
lifting mists of morning--we can fairly "smell" the river, as Huck
himself would say, and we know that it is because the writer loved it
with his heart of hearts and literally drank in its environment and
atmosphere during those halcyon pilot days.

So, in his love lay the secret of his marvelous learning, and it is
recorded (not by himself, but by his teacher) that he was an apt pupil.
Horace Bixby has more than once declared:

"Sam was always good-natured, and he had a natural taste for the river.
He had a fine memory and never forgot anything I told him."

Mark Twain himself records a different opinion of his memory, with the
size of its appalling task. It can only be presented in his own words.
In the pages quoted he had mastered somewhat of the problem, and had
begun to take on airs. His chief was a constant menace at such moments:

    One day he turned on me suddenly with this settler:

    "What is the shape of Walnut Bend?"

    He might as well have asked me my grandmother's opinion of
    protoplasm. I reflected respectfully, and then said I didn't know
    it had any particular shape. My gun-powdery chief went off with a
    bang, of course, and then went on loading and firing until he was
    out of adjectives.... I waited. By and by he said:

    "My boy, you've got to know the shape of the river perfectly. It is
    all there is left to steer by on a very dark night. Everything is
    blotted out and gone. But mind you, it hasn't the same shape in the
    night that it has in the daytime."

    "How on earth am I ever going to learn it, then?"

    "How do you follow a hall at home in the dark? Because you know the
    shape of it. You can't see it."

    "Do you mean to say that I've got to know all the million trifling
    variations of shape in the banks of this interminable river as well
    as I know the shape of the front hall at home?"

    "On my honor, you've got to know them better than any man ever did
    know the shapes of the halls in his own house."

    "I wish I was dead!"

    "Now, I don't want to discourage you, but----"

    "Well, pile it on me; I might as well have it now as another time."

    "You see, this has got to be learned; there isn't any getting around
    it. A clear starlight night throws such heavy shadows that, if you
    didn't know the shape of a shore perfectly, you would claw away from
    every bunch of timber, because you would take the black shadow of it
    for a solid cape; and, you see, you would be getting scared to death
    every fifteen minutes by the watch. You would be fifty yards from
    shore all the time when you ought to be within fifty feet of it.
    You can't see a snag in one of those shadows, but you know exactly
    where it is, and the shape of the river tells you when you are
    coming to it. Then there's your pitch-dark night; the river is a
    very different shape on a pitch-dark night from what it is on a
    starlight night. All shores seem to be straight lines, then, and
    mighty dim ones, too; and you'd run them for straight lines, only
    you know better. You boldly drive your boat right into what seems
    to be a solid, straight wall (you know very well that in reality
    there is a curve there), and that wall falls back and makes way for
    you. Then there's your gray mist. You take a night when there's
    one of these grisly, drizzly, gray mists, and then there isn't any
    particular shape to a shore. A gray mist would tangle the head of
    the oldest man that ever lived. Well, then, different kinds of
    moonlight change the shape of the river in different ways.
    You see----"

    "Oh, don't say any more, please! Have I got to learn the shape of
    the river according to all these five hundred thousand different
    ways? If I tried to carry all that cargo in my head it would make
    me stoop-shouldered."

    "No! you only learn the shape of the river; and you learn it with
    such absolute certainty that you can always steer by the shape
    that's in your head, and never mind the one that's before your
    eyes."

    "Very well, I'll try it; but, after I have learned it, can I depend
    on it? Will it keep the same form, and not go fooling around?"

    Before Mr. Bixby could answer, Mr. W. came in to take the watch, and
    he said:

    "Bixby, you'll have to look out for President's island, and all that
    country clear away up above the Old Hen and Chickens. The banks are
    caving and the shape of the shores changing like everything. Why,
    you wouldn't know the point about 40. You can go up inside the old
    sycamore snag now."

    So that question was answered. Here were leagues of shore changing
    shape. My spirits were down in the mud again. Two things seemed
    pretty apparent to me. One was that in order to be a pilot a man
    had got to learn more than any one man ought to be allowed to know;
    and the other was that he must learn it all over again in a
    different way every twenty-four hours.

    I went to work now to learn the shape of the river; and of all the
    eluding and ungraspable objects that ever I tried to get mind or
    hands on, that was the chief. I would fasten my eyes upon a sharp,
    wooded point that projected far into the river some miles ahead of
    me and go to laboriously photographing its shape upon my brain; and
    just as I was beginning to succeed to my satisfaction we would draw
    up to it, and the exasperating thing would begin to melt away and
    fold back into the bank!

    It was plain that I had got to learn the shape of the river in all
    the different ways that could be thought of--upside down, wrong end
    first, inside out, fore-and-aft, and "thort-ships,"--and then know
    what to do on gray nights when it hadn't any shape at all. So I set
    about it. In the course of time I began to get the best of this
    knotty lesson, and my self-complacency moved to the front once more.
    Mr. Bixby was all fixed and ready to start it to the rear again. He
    opened on me after this fashion:

    "How much water did we have in the middle crossing at Hole-in-The-
    Wall, trip before last?"

    I considered this an outrage. I said:

    "Every trip down and up the leadsmen are singing through that
    tangled place for three-quarters of an hour on a stretch. How do
    you reckon I can remember such a mess as that?"

    "My boy, you've got to remember it. You've got to remember the
    exact spot and the exact marks the boat lay in when we had the
    shoalest water, in every one of the five hundred shoal places
    between St. Louis and New Orleans; and you mustn't get the shoal
    soundings and marks of one trip mixed up with the shoal soundings
    and marks of another, either, for they're not often twice alike.
    You must keep them separate."

    When I came to myself again, I said:

    "When I get so that I can do that, I'll be able to raise the dead,
    and then I won't have to pilot a steamboat to make a living. I want
    to retire from this business. I want a slush-bucket and a brush;
    I'm only fit for a roustabout. I haven't got brains enough to be a
    pilot; and if I had I wouldn't have strength enough to carry them
    around, unless I went on crutches."

    "Now drop that! When I say I'll learn a man the river I mean it.
    And you can depend on it, I'll learn him or kill him."

We have quoted at length from this chapter because it seems of very
positive importance here. It is one of the most luminous in the book so
far as the mastery of the science of piloting is concerned, and shows
better than could any other combination of words something of what is
required of the learner. It does not cover the whole problem, by any
means--Mark Twain himself could not present that; and even considering
his old-time love of the river and the pilot's trade, it is still
incredible that a man of his temperament could have persisted, as he did,
against such obstacles.




XXIV

THE RIVER CURRICULUM

He acquired other kinds of knowledge. As the streets of Hannibal in
those early days, and the printing-offices of several cities, had taught
him human nature in various unvarnished aspects, so the river furnished
an added course to that vigorous education. Morally, its atmosphere
could not be said to be an improvement on the others. Navigation in the
West had begun with crafts of the flat-boat type--their navigators rude,
hardy men, heavy drinkers, reckless fighters, barbaric in their sports,
coarse in their wit, profane in everything. Steam-boatmen were the
natural successors of these pioneers--a shade less coarse, a thought less
profane, a veneer less barbaric. But these things were mainly "above
stairs." You had but to scratch lightly a mate or a deck-hand to find
the old keel-boatman savagery. Captains were overlords, and pilots kings
in this estate; but they were not angels. In Life on the Mississippi
Clemens refers to his chief's explosive vocabulary and tells us how he
envied the mate's manner of giving an order. It was easier to acquire
those things than piloting, and, on the whole, quicker. One could
improve upon them, too, with imagination and wit and a natural gift for
terms. That Samuel Clemens maintained his promise as to drink and cards
during those apprentice days is something worth remembering; and if he
did not always restrict his profanity to moments of severe pressure or
sift the quality of his wit, we may also remember that he was an extreme
example of a human being, in that formative stage which gathers all as
grist, later to refine it for the uses and delights of men.

He acquired a vast knowledge of human character. He says:

    In that brief, sharp schooling I got personally and familiarly
    acquainted with all the different types of human nature that are to
    be found in fiction, biography, or history. When I find a well-
    drawn character in fiction or biography, I generally take a warm
    personal interest in him, for the reason that I have, known him
    before--met him on the river.

Undoubtedly the river was a great school for the study of life's broader
philosophies and humors: philosophies that avoid vague circumlocution and
aim at direct and sure results; humors of the rugged and vigorous sort
that in Europe are known as "American" and in America are known as
"Western." Let us be thankful that Mark Twain's school was no less than
it was--and no more.

The demands of the Missouri River trade took Horace Bixby away from the
Mississippi, somewhat later, and he consigned his pupil, according to
custom, to another pilot--it is not certain, now, to just which pilot,
but probably to Zeb Leavenworth or Beck Jolly, of the John J. Roe. The
Roe was a freight-boat, "as slow as an island and as comfortable as a
farm." In fact, the Roe was owned and conducted by farmers, and Sam
Clemens thought if John Quarles's farm could be set afloat it would
greatly resemble that craft in the matter of good-fellowship,
hospitality, and speed. It was said of her that up-stream she could even
beat an island, though down-stream she could never quite overtake the
current, but was a "love of a steamboat" nevertheless. The Roe was not
licensed to carry passengers, but she always had a dozen "family guests"
aboard, and there was a big boiler-deck for dancing and moonlight
frolics, also a piano in the cabin. The young pilot sometimes played on
the piano and sang to his music songs relating to the "grasshopper on the
sweet-potato vine," or to an old horse by the name of Methusalem:

       Took him down and sold him in Jerusalem,
              A long time ago.

There were forty-eight stanzas about this ancient horse, all pretty much
alike; but the assembled company was not likely to be critical, and his
efforts won him laurels. He had a heavenly time on the John J. Roe, and
then came what seemed inferno by contrast. Bixby returned, made a trip
or two, then left and transferred him again, this time to a man named
Brown. Brown had a berth on the fine new steamer Pennsylvania, one of
the handsomest boats on the river, and young Clemens had become a fine
steersman, so it is not unlikely that both men at first were gratified by
the arrangement.

But Brown was a fault-finding, tyrannical chief, ignorant, vulgar, and
malicious. In the Mississippi book the author gives his first interview
with Brown, also his last one. For good reasons these occasions were
burned into his memory, and they may be accepted as substantially
correct. Brown had an offensive manner. His first greeting was a surly
question.

"Are you Horace Bigsby's cub?"

"Bixby" was usually pronounced "Bigsby" on the river, but Brown made it
especially obnoxious and followed it up with questions and comments and
orders still more odious. His subordinate soon learned to detest him
thoroughly. It was necessary, however, to maintain a respectable
deportment--custom, discipline, even the law, required that--but it must
have been a hard winter and spring the young steersman put in during
those early months of 1858, restraining himself from the gratification of
slaying Brown. Time would bring revenge--a tragic revenge and at a
fearful cost; but he could not guess that, and he put in his spare time
planning punishments of his own.

    I could imagine myself killing Brown; there was no law against that,
    and that was the thing I always used to do the moment I was abed.
    Instead of going over my river in my mind, as was my duty, I threw
    business aside for pleasure and killed Brown. I killed Brown every
    night for a month; not in old, stale, commonplace ways, but in new
    and picturesque ones--ways that were sometimes surprising for
    freshness of design and ghastly for situation and environment.

Once when Brown had been more insulting than usual his subordinate went
to bed and killed him in "seventeen different ways--all of them new."

He had made an effort at first to please Brown, but it was no use. Brown
was the sort of a man that refused to be pleased; no matter how carefully
his subordinate steered, he as always at him.

"Here," he would shout, "where are you going now? Pull her down! Pull
her down! Don't you hear me? Dod-derned mud-cat!"

His assistant lost all desire to be obliging to such a person and even
took occasion now and then to stir him up. One day they were steaming up
the river when Brown noticed that the boat seemed to be heading toward
some unusual point.

"Here, where are you heading for now?" he yelled. "What in nation are
you steerin' at, anyway? Deyned numskull!"

"Why," said Sam, in unruffled deliberation, "I didn't see much else I
could steer for, and I was heading for that white heifer on the bank."

"Get away from that wheel! and get outen this pilothouse!" yelled Brown.
"You ain't fit to become no pilot!"

Which was what Sam wanted. Any temporary relief from the carping tyranny
of Brown was welcome.

He had been on the river nearly a year now, and, though universally liked
and accounted a fine steersman, he was receiving no wages. There had
been small need of money for a while, for he had no board to pay; but
clothes wear out at last, and there were certain incidentals. The
Pennsylvania made a round trip in about thirty-five days, with a day or
two of idle time at either end. The young pilot found that he could get
night employment, watching freight on the New Orleans levee, and thus
earn from two and a half to three dollars for each night's watch.
Sometimes there would be two nights, and with a capital of five or six
dollars he accounted himself rich.

"It was a desolate experience," he said, long afterward, "watching there
in the dark among those piles of freight; not a sound, not a living
creature astir. But it was not a profitless one: I used to have
inspirations as I sat there alone those nights. I used to imagine all
sorts of situations and possibilities. Those things got into my books by
and by and furnished me with many a chapter. I can trace the effect of
those nights through most of my books in one way and another."

Many of the curious tales in the latter half of the Mississippi book came
out of those long night-watches. It was a good time to think of such
things.




XXV

LOVE-MAKING AND ADVENTURE

Of course, life with Brown was not all sorrow. At either end of the trip
there was respite and recreation. In St. Louis, at Pamela's there was
likely to be company: Hannibal friends mostly, schoolmates--girls, of
course. At New Orleans he visited friendly boats, especially the John J.
Roe, where he was generously welcomed. One such visit on the Roe he
never forgot. A young girl was among the boat's guests that trip
--another Laura, fifteen, winning, delightful. They met, and were
mutually attracted; in the life of each it was one of those bright spots
which are likely to come in youth: one of those sudden, brief periods of
romance, love--call it what you will the thing that leads to marriage, if
pursued.

"I was not four inches from that girl's elbow during our waking hours for
the next three days."

Then came a sudden interruption: Zeb Leavenworth came flying aft
shouting:

"The Pennsylvania is backing out."

A flutter of emotion, a fleeting good-by, a flight across the decks, a
flying leap from romance back to reality, and it was all over. He wrote
her, but received no reply. He never saw her again, never heard from her
for forty-eight years, when both were married, widowed, and old. She had
not received his letter.

Even on the Pennsylvania life had its interests. A letter dated March 9,
1858, recounts a delightfully dangerous night-adventure in the steamer's
yawl, hunting for soundings in the running ice.

    Then the fun commenced. We made fast a line 20 fathoms long, to the
    bow of the yawl, and put the men (both crews) to it like horses on
    the shore. Brown, the pilot, stood in the bow, with an oar, to keep
    her head out, and I took the tiller. We would start the men, and
    all would go well till the yawl would bring up on a heavy cake of
    ice, and then the men would drop like so many tenpins, while Brown
    assumed the horizontal in the bottom of the boat. After an hour's
    hard work we got back, with ice half an inch thick on the oars.
    Sent back and warped up the other yawl, and then George (George
    Ealer, the other pilot) and myself took a double crew of fresh men
    and tried it again. This time we found the channel in less than
    half an hour, and landed on an island till the Pennsylvania came
    along and took us off. The next day was colder still. I was out in
    the yawl twice, and then we got through, but the infernal steamboat
    came near running over us.... We sounded Hat Island, warped up
    around a bar, and sounded again--but in order to understand our
    situation you will have to read Dr. Kane. It would have been
    impossible to get back to the boat. But the Maria Denning was
    aground at the head of the island--they hailed us--we ran alongside,
    and they hoisted us in and thawed us out. We had then been out in
    the yawl from four o'clock in the morning till half past nine
    without being near a fire. There was a thick coating of ice over
    men, and yawl, ropes and everything else, and we looked like rock-
    candy statuary.

This was the sort of thing he loved in those days. We feel the writer's
evident joy and pride in it. In the same letter he says: "I can't
correspond with the paper, because when one is learning the river he is
not allowed to do or think about anything else." Then he mentions his
brother Henry, and we get the beginning of that tragic episode for which,
though blameless, Samuel Clemens always held himself responsible.

    Henry was doing little or nothing here (St. Louis), and I sent him
    to our clerk to work his way for a trip, measuring wood-piles,
    counting coal-boxes, and doing other clerkly duties, which he
    performed satisfactorily. He may go down with us again.

Henry Clemens was about twenty at this time, a handsome, attractive boy
of whom his brother was lavishly fond and proud. He did go on the next
trip and continued to go regularly after that, as third clerk in line of
promotion. It was a bright spot in those hard days with Brown to have
Henry along. The boys spent a good deal of their leisure with the other
pilot, George Ealer, who "was as kindhearted as Brown wasn't," and quoted
Shakespeare and Goldsmith, and played the flute to his fascinated and
inspiring audience. These were things worth while. The young steersman
could not guess that the shadow of a long sorrow was even then stretching
across the path ahead.

Yet in due time he received a warning, a remarkable and impressive
warning, though of a kind seldom heeded. One night, when the
Pennsylvania lay in St. Louis, he slept at his sister's house and had
this vivid dream:

He saw Henry, a corpse, lying in a metallic burial case in the
sitting-room, supported on two chairs. On his breast lay a bouquet of
flowers, white, with a single crimson bloom in the center.

When he awoke, it was morning, but the dream was so vivid that he
believed it real. Perhaps something of the old hypnotic condition was
upon him, for he rose and dressed, thinking he would go in and look at
his dead brother. Instead, he went out on the street in the early
morning and had walked to the middle of the block before it suddenly
flashed upon him that it was only a dream. He bounded back, rushed to
the sitting-room, and felt a great trembling revulsion of joy when he
found it really empty. He told Pamela the dream, then put it out of his
mind as quickly as he could. The Pennsylvania sailed from St. Louis as
usual, and made a safe trip to New Orleans.

A safe trip, but an eventful one; on it occurred that last interview with
Brown, already mentioned. It is recorded in the Mississippi book, but
cannot be omitted here. Somewhere down the river (it was in Eagle Bend)
Henry appeared on the hurricane deck to bring an order from the captain
for a landing to be made a little lower down. Brown was somewhat deaf,
but would never confess it. He may not have understood the order; at all
events he gave no sign of having heard it, and went straight ahead. He
disliked Henry as he disliked everybody of finer grain than himself, and
in any case was too arrogant to ask for a repetition. They were passing
the landing when Captain Klinefelter appeared on deck and called to him
to let the boat come around, adding:

"Didn't Henry tell you to land here?"

"No, sir."

Captain. Klinefelter turned to Sam:

"Didn't you hear him?"

"Yes, sir."

Brown said: "Shut your mouth! You never heard anything of the kind."

By and by Henry came into the pilot-house, unaware of any trouble. Brown
set upon him in his ugliest manner.

"Here, why didn't you tell me we had got to land at that plantation?" he
demanded.

Henry was always polite, always gentle.

"I did tell you, Mr. Brown."

"It's a lie."

Sam Clemens could stand Brown's abuse of himself, but not of Henry. He
said: "You lie yourself. He did tell you."

Brown was dazed for a moment and then he shouted:

"I'll attend to your case in half a minute!" and ordered Henry out of the
pilot-house.

The boy had started, when Brown suddenly seized him by the collar and
struck him in the face.--[In the Mississippi book the writer states that
Brown started to strike Henry with a large piece of coal; but, in a
letter written soon after the occurrence to Mrs. Orion Clemens, he says:
"Henry started out of the pilot-house-Brown jumped up and collared him
--turned him half-way around and struck him in the face!-and him nearly
six feet high-struck my little brother. I was wild from that moment. I
left the boat to steer herself, and avenged the insult--and the captain
said I was right."]--Instantly Sam was upon Brown, with a heavy stool,
and stretched him on the floor. Then all the bitterness and indignation
that had been smoldering for months flamed up, and, leaping upon Brown
and holding him with his knees, he pounded him with his fists until
strength and fury gave out. Brown struggled free, then, and with pilot
instinct sprang to the wheel, for the vessel had been drifting and might
have got into trouble. Seeing there was no further danger, he seized a
spy-glass as a weapon.

"Get out of this here pilot-house," he raged.

But his subordinate was not afraid of him now.

"You should leave out the 'here,'" he drawled, critically. "It is
understood, and not considered good English form."

"Don't you give me none of your airs," yelled Brown. "I ain't going to
stand nothing more from you."

"You should say, 'Don't give me any of your airs,'" Sam said, sweetly,
"and the last half of your sentence almost defies correction."

A group of passengers and white-aproned servants, assembled on the deck
forward, applauded the victor.

Brown turned to the wheel, raging and growling. Clemens went below,
where he expected Captain Klinefelter to put him in irons, perhaps, for
it was thought to be felony to strike a pilot. The officer took him into
his private room and closed the door. At first he looked at the culprit
thoughtfully, then he made some inquiries:

    "Did you strike him first?" Captain Klinefelter asked.

    "Yes, sir."

    "What with?"

    "A stool, sir."

    "Hard?"

    "Middling, sir."

    "Did it knock him down?"

    "He--he fell, sir."

    "Did you follow it up? Did you do anything further?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "What did you do?"

    "Pounded him, sir."

    "Pounded him?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Did you pound him much--that is, severely?"

    "One might call it that, sir, maybe."

    "I am deuced glad of it! Hark ye, never mention that I said that.
    You have been guilty of a great crime; and don't ever be guilty of
    it again on this boat, but--lay for him ashore! Give him a good
    sound thrashing; do you hear? I'll pay the expenses."--["Life on
    the Mississippi."]

Captain Klinefelter told him to clear out, then, and the culprit heard
him enjoying himself as the door closed behind him. Brown, of course,
forbade him the pilothouse after that, and he spent the rest of the trip
"an emancipated slave" listening to George Ealer's flute and his readings
from Goldsmith and Shakespeare; playing chess with him sometimes, and
learning a trick which he would use himself in the long after-years--that
of taking back the last move and running out the game differently when he
saw defeat.

Brown swore that he would leave the boat at New Orleans if Sam Clemens
remained on it, and Captain Klinefelter told Brown to go. Then when
another pilot could not be obtained to fill his place, the captain
offered to let Clemens himself run the daylight watches, thus showing his
confidence in the knowledge of the young steersman, who had been only a
little more than a year at the wheel. But Clemens himself had less
confidence and advised the captain to keep Brown back to St. Louis. He
would follow up the river by another boat and resume his place as
steersman when Brown was gone. Without knowing it, he may have saved his
life by that decision.

It is doubtful if he remembered his recent disturbing dream, though some
foreboding would seem to have hung over him the night before the
Pennsylvania sailed. Henry liked to join in the night-watches on the
levee when he had finished his duties, and the brothers often walked the
round chatting together. On this particular night the elder spoke of
disaster on the river. Finally he said:

"In case of accident, whatever you do, don't lose your head--the
passengers will do that. Rush for the hurricane deck and to the
life-boat, and obey the mate's orders. When the boat is launched, help
the women and children into it. Don't get in yourself. The river is
only a mile wide. You can swim ashore easily enough."

It was good manly advice, but it yielded a long harvest of sorrow.




XXVI

THE TRAGEDY OF THE "PENNSYLVANIA"

Captain Klinefelter obtained his steersman a pass on the A. T. Lacey,
which left two days behind the Pennsylvania. This was pleasant, for Bart
Bowen had become captain of that fine boat. The Lacey touched at
Greenville, Mississippi, and a voice from the landing shouted:

"The Pennsylvania is blown up just below Memphis, at Ship Island! One
hundred and fifty lives lost!"

Nothing further could be learned there, but that evening at Napoleon a
Memphis extra reported some of the particulars. Henry Clemens's name was
mentioned as one of those, who had escaped injury. Still farther up the
river they got a later extra. Henry was again mentioned; this time as
being scalded beyond recovery. By the time they reached Memphis they
knew most of the details: At six o'clock that warm mid-June morning,
while loading wood from a large flat-boat sixty miles below Memphis, four
out of eight of the Pennsylvania's boilers had suddenly exploded with
fearful results. All the forward end of the boat had been blown out.
Many persons had been killed outright; many more had been scalded and
crippled and would die. It was one of those hopeless, wholesale
steamboat slaughters which for more than a generation had made the
Mississippi a river of death and tears.

Samuel Clemens found his brother stretched upon a mattress on the floor
of an improvised hospital--a public hall--surrounded by more than thirty
others more or less desperately injured. He was told that Henry had
inhaled steam and that his body was badly scalded. His case was
considered hopeless.

Henry was one of those who had been blown into the river by the
explosion. He had started to swim for the shore, only a few hundred
yards away, but presently, feeling no pain and believing himself unhurt,
he had turned back to assist in the rescue of the others. What he did
after that could not be clearly learned. The vessel had taken fire; the
rescued were being carried aboard the big wood-boat still attached to the
wreck. The fire soon raged so that the rescuers and all who could be
saved were driven into the wood-flat, which was then cut adrift and
landed. There the sufferers had to lie in the burning sun many hours
until help could come. Henry was among those who were insensible by that
time. Perhaps he had really been uninjured at first and had been scalded
in his work of rescue; it will never be known.

His brother, hearing these things, was thrown into the deepest agony and
remorse. He held himself to blame for everything; for Henry's presence
on the boat; for his advice concerning safety of others; for his own
absence when he might have been there to help and protect the boy. He
wanted to telegraph at once to his mother and sister to come, but the
doctors persuaded him to wait--just why, he never knew. He sent word of
the disaster to Orion, who by this time had sold out in Keokuk and was in
East Tennessee studying law; then he set himself to the all but hopeless
task of trying to bring Henry back to life. Many Memphis ladies were
acting as nurses, and one, a Miss Wood, attracted by the boy's youth and
striking features, joined in the desperate effort. Some medical students
had come to assist the doctors, and one of these also took special
interest in Henry's case. Dr. Peyton, an old Memphis practitioner,
declared that with such care the boy might pull through.

But on the fourth night he was considered to be dying. Half delirious
with grief and the strain of watching, Samuel Clemens wrote to his mother
and to his sister-in-law in Tennessee. The letter to Orion Clemens's
wife has been preserved.

    MEMPHIS, TENN., Friday, June 18, 1858.

    DEAR SISTER MOLLIE,--Long before this reaches you my poor Henry--my
    darling, my pride, my glory, my all will have finished his blameless
    career, and the light of my life will have gone out in utter
    darkness. The horrors of three days have swept over me--they have
    blasted my youth and left me an old man before my time. Mollie,
    there are gray hairs in my head to-night. For forty-eight hours I
    labored at the bedside of my poor burned and bruised but
    uncomplaining brother, and then the star of my hope went out and
    left me in the gloom of despair. Men take me by the hand and
    congratulate me, and call me "lucky" because I was not on the
    Pennsylvania when she blew up! May God forgive them, for they know
    not what they say.

    I was on the Pennsylvania five minutes before she left N. Orleans,
    and I must tell you the truth, Mollie--three hundred human beings
    perished by that fearful disaster. But may God bless Memphis, the
    noblest city on the face of the earth. She has done her duty by
    these poor afflicted creatures--especially Henry, for he has had
    five--aye, ten, fifteen, twenty times the care and attention that
    any one else has had. Dr. Peyton, the best physician in Memphis (he
    is exactly like the portraits of Webster), sat by him for 36 hours.
    There are 32 scalded men in that room, and you would know Dr.
    Peyton better than I can describe him if you could follow him around
    and hear each man murmur as he passes, "May the God of Heaven bless
    you, Doctor!" The ladies have done well, too. Our second mate, a
    handsome, noble-hearted young fellow, will die. Yesterday a
    beautiful girl of 15 stooped timidly down by his side and handed him
    a pretty bouquet. The poor suffering boy's eyes kindled, his lips
    quivered out a gentle "God bless you, Miss," and he burst into
    tears. He made them write her name on a card for him, that he might
    not forget it.

    Pray for me, Mollie, and pray for my poor sinless brother.
    Your unfortunate brother,

    SAML. L. CLEMENS.

    P. S.--I got here two days after Henry.

But, alas, this was not all, nor the worst. It would seem that Samuel
Clemens's cup of remorse must be always overfull. The final draft that
would embitter his years was added the sixth night after the accident
--the night that Henry died. He could never bring himself to write it.
He was never known to speak of it but twice.

Henry had rallied soon after the foregoing letter had been mailed, and
improved slowly that day and the next: Dr. Peyton came around about
eleven o'clock on the sixth night and made careful examination. He said:

"I believe he is out of danger and will get well. He is likely to be
restless during the night; the groans and fretting of the others will
disturb him. If he cannot rest without it, tell the physician in charge
to give him one-eighth of a grain of morphine."

The boy did wake during the night, and was disturbed by the complaining
of the other sufferers. His brother told the young medical student in
charge what the doctor had said about the morphine. But morphine was a
new drug then; the student hesitated, saying:

"I have no way of measuring. I don't know how much an eighth of a grain
would be."

Henry grew rapidly worse--more and more restless. His brother was half
beside himself with the torture of it. He went to the medical student.

"If you have studied drugs," he said, "you ought to be able to judge an
eighth of a grain of morphine."

The young man's courage was over-swayed. He yielded and ladled out in
the old-fashioned way, on the point of a knife-blade, what he believed to
be the right amount. Henry immediately sank into a heavy sleep. He died
before morning. His chance of life had been infinitesimal, and his death
was not necessarily due to the drug, but Samuel Clemens, unsparing in his
self-blame, all his days carried the burden of it.

He saw the boy taken to the dead room, then the long strain of grief, the
days and nights without sleep, the ghastly realization of the end
overcame him. A citizen of Memphis took him away in a kind of daze and
gave him a bed in his house, where he fell into a stupor of fatigue and
surrender. It was many hours before he woke; when he did, at last, he
dressed and went to where Henry lay. The coffin provided for the dead
were of unpainted wood, but the youth and striking face of Henry Clemens
had aroused a special interest. The ladies of Memphis had made up a fund
of sixty dollars and bought for him a metallic case. Samuel Clemens
entering, saw his brother lying exactly as he had seen him in his dream,
lacking only the bouquet of white flowers with its crimson center--a
detail made complete while he stood there, for at that moment an elderly
lady came in with a large white bouquet, and in the center of it was a
single red rose.

Orion arrived from Tennessee, and the brothers took their sorrowful
burden to St. Louis, subsequently to Hannibal, his old home. The death
of this lovely boy was a heavy sorrow to the community where he was
known, for he had been a favorite with all.--[For a fine characterization
of Henry Clemens the reader is referred to a letter written by Orion
Clemens to Miss Wood. See Appendix A, at the end of the last volume.]

From Hannibal the family returned to Pamela's home in St. Louis. There
one night Orion heard his brother moaning and grieving and walking the
floor of his room. By and by Sam came in to where Orion was. He could
endure it no longer, he said; he must, "tell somebody."

Then he poured all the story of that last tragic night. It has been set
down here because it accounts for much in his after-life. It magnified
his natural compassion for the weakness and blunders of humanity, while
it increased the poor opinion implanted by the Scotchman Macfarlane of
the human being as a divine invention. Two of Mark Twain's chief
characteristics were--consideration for the human species, and contempt
for it.

In many ways he never overcame the tragedy of Henry's death. He never
really looked young again. Gray hairs had come, as he said, and they did
not disappear. His face took on the serious, pathetic look which from
that time it always had in repose. At twenty-three he looked thirty. At
thirty he looked nearer forty. After that the discrepancy in age and
looks became less notable. In vigor, complexion, and temperament he was
regarded in later life as young for his years, but never in looks.




XXVII

THE PILOT

The young pilot returned to the river as steersman for George Ealer, whom
he loved, and in September of that year obtained a full license as
Mississippi River pilot.--[In Life on the Mississippi he gives his period
of learning at from two to two and a half years; but documentary evidence
as well as Mr. Bixby's testimony places the apprenticeship at eighteen
months]--Bixby had returned by this time, and they were again together,
first on the Crescent City, later on a fine new boat called the New Falls
City. Clemens was still a steersman when Bixby returned; but as soon as
his license was granted (September 9, 1858) his old chief took him as
full partner.

He was a pilot at last. In eighteen months he had packed away in his
head all the multitude of volatile statistics and acquired that
confidence and courage which made him one of the elect, a river
sovereign. He knew every snag and bank and dead tree and reef in all
those endless miles between St. Louis and New Orleans, every cut-off and
current, every depth of water--the whole story--by night and by day. He
could smell danger in the dark; he could read the surface of the water as
an open page. At twenty-three he had acquired a profession which
surpassed all others for absolute sovereignty and yielded an income equal
to that then earned by the Vice-President of the United States. Boys
generally finish college at about that age, but it is not likely that any
boy ever finished college with the mass of practical information and
training that was stored away in Samuel Clemens's head, or with his
knowledge of human nature, his preparation for battle with the world.

"Not only was he a pilot, but a good one." These are Horace Bixby's
words, and he added:

"It is the fashion to-day to disparage Sam's piloting. Men who were born
since he was on the river and never saw him will tell you that Sam was
never much of a pilot. Most of them will tell you that he was never a
pilot at all. As a matter of fact, Sam was a fine pilot, and in a day
when piloting on the Mississippi required a great deal more brains and
skill and application than it does now. There were no signal-lights
along the shore in those days, and no search-lights on the vessels;
everything was blind, and on a dark, misty night in a river full of snags
and shifting sand--bars and changing shores, a pilot's judgment had to be
founded on absolute certainty."

He had plenty of money now. He could help his mother with a liberal
hand, and he did it. He helped Orion, too, with money and with advice.
From a letter written toward the end of the year, we gather the new
conditions. Orion would seem to have been lamenting over prospects, and
the young pilot, strong and exalted in his new estate, urges him to
renewed consistent effort:

    What is a government without energy?--[he says]--. And what is a
    man without energy? Nothing--nothing at all. What is the grandest
    thing in "Paradise Lost"--the Arch-Fiend's terrible energy! What
    was the greatest feature in Napoleon's character? His unconquerable
    energy! Sum all the gifts that man is endowed with, and we give our
    greatest share of admiration to his energy. And to-day, if I were a
    heathen, I would rear a statue to Energy, and fall down and worship
    it!

    I want a man to--I want you to--take up a line of action, and follow
    it out, in spite of the very devil.

Orion and his wife had returned to Keokuk by this time, waiting for
something in the way of a business opportunity.

His pilot brother, wrote him more than once letters of encouragement and
council. Here and there he refers to the tragedy of Henry's death, and
the shadow it has cast upon his life; but he was young, he was
successful, his spirits were naturally exuberant. In the exhilaration of
youth and health and success he finds vent at times in that natural human
outlet, self-approval. He not only exhibits this weakness, but confesses
it with characteristic freedom.

    Putting all things together, I begin to think I am rather lucky than
    otherwise--a notion which I was slow to take up. The other night I
    was about to "round to" for a storm, but concluded that I could find
    a smoother bank somewhere. I landed five miles below. The storm
    came, passed away and did not injure us. Coming up, day before
    yesterday, I looked at the spot I first chose, and half the trees on
    the bank were torn to shreds. We couldn't have lived 5 minutes in
    such a tornado. And I am also lucky in having a berth, while all
    the other young pilots are idle. This is the luckiest circumstance
    that ever befell me. Not on account of the wages--for that is a
    secondary consideration-but from the fact that the City of Memphis
    is the largest boat in the trade, and the hardest to pilot, and
    consequently I can get a reputation on her, which is a thing I never
    could accomplish on a transient boat. I can "bank" in the
    neighborhood of $100 a month on her, and that will satisfy me for
    the present (principally because the other youngsters are sucking
    their fingers). Bless me! what a pleasure there is in revenge!--and
    what vast respect Prosperity commands! Why, six months ago, I could
    enter the "Rooms," and receive only the customary fraternal greeting
    now they say, "Why, how are you, old fellow--when did you get in?"

    And the young pilots who use to tell me, patronizingly, that I could
    never learn the river cannot keep from showing a little of their
    chagrin at seeing me so far ahead of them. Permit me to "blow my
    horn," for I derive a living pleasure from these things, and I must
    confess that when I go to pay my dues, I rather like to let the
    d---d rascals get a glimpse of a hundred-dollar bill peeping out
    from amongst notes of smaller dimensions whose face I do not
    exhibit! You will despise this egotism, but I tell you there is a
    "stern joy" in it.

We are dwelling on this period of Mark Twain's life, for it was a period
that perhaps more than any other influenced his future years. He became
completely saturated with the river its terms, its memories, its
influence remained a definite factor in his personality to the end of his
days. Moreover, it was his first period of great triumph. Where before
he had been a subaltern not always even a wage-earner--now all in a
moment he had been transformed into a high chief. The fullest ambition
of his childhood had been realized--more than realized, for in that day
he had never dreamed of a boat or of an income of such stately
proportions. Of great personal popularity, and regarded as a safe pilot,
he had been given one of the largest, most difficult of boats.
Single-handed and alone he had fought his way into the company of kings.

And we may pardon his vanity. He could hardly fail to feel his glory and
revel in it and wear it as a halo, perhaps, a little now and then in the
Association Rooms. To this day he is remembered as a figure there,
though we may believe, regardless of his own statement, that it was not
entirely because of his success. As the boys of Hannibal had gathered
around to listen when Sam Clemens began to speak, so we may be certain
that the pilots at St. Louis and New Orleans laid aside other things when
he had an observation to make or a tale to tell.

    He was much given to spinning yarns--[writes one associate of those
    days]--so funny that his hearers were convulsed, and yet all the
    time his own face was perfectly sober. If he laughed at all, it
    must have been inside. It would have killed his hearers to do that.
    Occasionally some of his droll yarns would get into the papers. He
    may have written them himself.

Another riverman of those days has recalled a story he heard Sam Clemens
tell:

    We were speaking of presence of mind in accidents--we were always
    talking of such things; then he said:

    "Boys, I had great presence of mind once. It was at a fire. An old
    man leaned out of a four-story building calling for help. Everybody
    in the crowd below looked up, but nobody did anything. The ladders
    weren't long enough. Nobody had any presence of mind--nobody but
    me. I came to the rescue. I yelled for a rope. When it came I
    threw the old man the end of it. He caught it and I told him to tie
    it around his waist. He did so, and I pulled him down."

This was one of the stories that got into print and traveled far.
Perhaps, as the old pilot suggests, he wrote some of them himself, for
Horace Bixby remembers that "Sam was always scribbling when not at the
wheel."

But if he published any work in those river-days he did not acknowledge
it later--with one exception. The exception was not intended for
publication, either. It was a burlesque written for the amusement of his
immediate friends. He has told the story himself, more than once, but it
belongs here for the reason that some where out of the general
circumstance of it there originated a pseudonym, one day to become the
best-known in the hemispheres the name Mark Twain.

That terse, positive, peremptory, dynamic pen-name was first used by an
old pilot named Isaiah Sellers--a sort of "oldest inhabitant" of the
river, who made the other pilots weary with the scope and antiquity of
his reminiscent knowledge. He contributed paragraphs of general
information and Nestorian opinions to the New Orleans Picayune, and
signed them "Mark Twain." They were quaintly egotistical in tone,
usually beginning: "My opinion for the benefit of the citizens of New
Orleans," and reciting incidents and comparisons dating as far back as
1811.

Captain Sellers naturally was regarded as fair game by the young pilots,
who amused themselves by imitating his manner and general attitude of
speech. But Clemens went further; he wrote at considerable length a
broadly burlesque imitation signed "Sergeant Fathom," with an
introduction which referred to the said Fathom as "one of the oldest cub
pilots on the river." The letter that followed related a perfectly
impossible trip, supposed to have been made in 1763 by the steamer "the
old first Jubilee" with a "Chinese captain and a Choctaw crew." It is a
gem of its kind, and will bear reprint in full today.--[See Appendix B,
at the end of the last volume.]

The burlesque delighted Bart Bowen, who was Clemens's pilot partner on
the Edward J. Gay at the time. He insisted on showing it to others and
finally upon printing it. Clemens was reluctant, but consented. It
appeared in the True Delta (May 8 or 9, 1859), and was widely and
boisterously enjoyed.

It broke Captain Sellers's literary heart. He never contributed another
paragraph. Mark Twain always regretted the whole matter deeply, and his
own revival of the name was a sort of tribute to the old man he had
thoughtlessly wounded. If Captain Sellers has knowledge of material
matters now, he is probably satisfied; for these things brought to him,
and to the name he had chosen, what he could never himself have achieved
--immortality.




XXVIII

PILOTING AND PROPHECY

Those who knew Samuel Clemens best in those days say that he was a
slender, fine-looking man, well dressed--even dandified--given to patent
leathers, blue serge, white duck, and fancy striped shirts. Old for his
years, he heightened his appearance at times by wearing his beard in the
atrocious mutton-chop fashion, then popular, but becoming to no one,
least of all to him. The pilots regarded him as a great reader--a
student of history, travels, literature, and the sciences--a young man
whom it was an education as well as an entertainment to know. When not
at the wheel, he was likely to be reading or telling yarns in the
Association Rooms.

He began the study of French one day when he passed a school of
languages, where three tongues, French, German, and Italian, were taught,
one in each of three rooms. The price was twenty-five dollars for one
language, or three for fifty dollars. The student was provided with a
set of cards for each room and supposed to walk from one apartment to
another, changing tongues at each threshold. With his unusual enthusiasm
and prodigality, the young pilot decided to take all three languages, but
after the first two or three round trips concluded that for the present
French would do. He did not return to the school, but kept his cards and
bought text-books. He must have studied pretty faithfully when he was
off watch and in port, for his river note-book contains a French
exercise, all neatly written, and it is from the Dialogues of Voltaire.

This old note-book is interesting for other things. The notes are no
longer timid, hesitating memoranda, but vigorous records made with the
dash of assurance that comes from confidence and knowledge, and with the
authority of one in supreme command. Under the head of "2d high-water
trip--Jan., 1861--Alonzo Child," we have the story of a rising river with
its overflowing banks, its blind passages and cut-offs--all the
circumstance and uncertainty of change.

    Good deal of water all over Coles Creek Chute, 12 or 15 ft. bank
    --could have gone up shore above General Taylor's--too much drift....

    Night--didn't run either 77 or 76 towheads--8 ft. bank on main shore
    Ozark Chute....

And so on page after page of cryptographic memoranda. It means little
enough to the lay reader, yet one gets an impression somehow of the
swirling, turbulent water and a lonely figure in that high glassed-in
place peering into the dark for blind land-marks and possible dangers,
picking his way up the dim, hungry river of which he must know every foot
as well as a man knows the hall of his own home. All the qualifications
must come into play, then memory, judgment, courage, and the high art of
steering. "Steering is a very high, art," he says; "one must not keep a
rudder dragging across a boat's stern if he wants to get up the river
fast."

He had an example of the perfection of this art one misty night on the
Alonzo Child. Nearly fifty years later, sitting on his veranda in the
dark, he recalled it. He said:

"There was a pilot in those days by the name of Jack Leonard who was a
perfectly wonderful creature. I do not know that Jack knew anymore about
the river than most of us and perhaps could not read the water any
better, but he had a knack of steering away ahead of our ability, and I
think he must have had an eye that could see farther into the darkness.

"I had never seen Leonard steer, but I had heard a good deal about it. I
had heard it said that the crankiest old tub afloat--one that would kill
any other man to handle--would obey and be as docile as a child when Jack
Leonard took the wheel. I had a chance one night to verify that for
myself. We were going up the river, and it was one of the nastiest
nights I ever saw. Besides that, the boat was loaded in such a way that
she steered very hard, and I was half blind and crazy trying to locate
the safe channel, and was pulling my arms out to keep her in it. It was
one of those nights when everything looks the same whichever way you
look: just two long lines where the sky comes down to the trees and where
the trees meet the water with all the trees precisely the same height
--all planted on the same day, as one of the boys used to put it--and not
a thing to steer by except the knowledge in your head of the real shape
of the river. Some of the boats had what they call a 'night hawk' on the
jackstaff, a thing which you could see when it was in the right position
against the sky or the water, though it seldom was in the right position
and was generally pretty useless.

"I was in a bad way that night and wondering how I could ever get through
it, when the pilot-house door opened, and Jack Leonard walked in. He was
a passenger that trip, and I had forgotten he was aboard. I was just
about in the worst place and was pulling the boat first one way, then
another, running the wheel backward and forward, and climbing it like a
squirrel.

"'Sam,' he said, 'let me take the wheel. Maybe I have been over this
place since you have.'

"I didn't argue the question. Jack took the wheel, gave it a little turn
one way, then a little turn the other; that old boat settled down as
quietly as a lamb--went right along as if it had been broad daylight in a
river without snags, bars, bottom, or banks, or anything that one could
possibly hit. I never saw anything so beautiful. He stayed my watch out
for me, and I hope I was decently grateful. I have never forgotten it."

The old note-book contained the record of many such nights as that; but
there were other nights, too, when the stars were blazing out, or when
the moon on the water made the river a wide mysterious way of speculative
dreams. He was always speculating; the planets and the remote suns were
always a marvel to him. A love of astronomy--the romance of it, its vast
distances, and its possibilities--began with those lonely river-watches
and never waned to his last day. For a time a great comet blazed in the
heavens, a "wonderful sheaf of light" that glorified his lonely watch.
Night after night he watched it as it developed and then grew dim, and he
read eagerly all the comet literature that came to his hand, then or
afterward. He speculated of many things: of life, death, the reason of
existence, of creation, the ways of Providence and Destiny. It was a
fruitful time for such meditation; out of such vigils grew those larger
philosophies that would find expression later, when the years had
conferred the magic gift of phrase.

Life lay all ahead of him then, and during those still watches he must
have revolved many theories of how the future should be met and mastered.
In the old notebook there still remains a well-worn clipping, the words
of some unknown writer, which he had preserved and may have consulted as
a sort of creed. It is an interesting little document--a prophetic one,
the reader may concede:

    HOW TO TAKE LIFE.--Take it just as though it was--as it is--an
    earnest, vital, and important affair. Take it as though you were
    born to the task of performing a merry part in it--as though the
    world had awaited for your coming. Take it as though it was a grand
    opportunity to do and achieve, to carry forward great and good
    schemes; to help and cheer a suffering, weary, it may be
    heartbroken, brother. Now and then a man stands aside from the
    crowd, labors earnestly, steadfastly, confidently, and straightway
    becomes famous for wisdom, intellect, skill, greatness of some sort.
    The world wonders, admires, idolizes, and it only illustrates what
    others may do if they take hold of life with a purpose. The
    miracle, or the power that elevates the few, is to be found in their
    industry, application, and perseverance under the promptings of a
    brave, determined spirit.

The old note-book contains no record of disasters. Horace Bixby, who
should know, has declared:

"Sam Clemens never had an accident either as a steersman or as a pilot,
except once when he got aground for a few hours in the bagasse (cane)
smoke, with no damage to anybody though of course there was some good
luck in that too, for the best pilots do not escape trouble, now and
then."

Bixby and Clemens were together that winter on the Alonzo Child, and a
letter to Orion contains an account of great feasting which the two
enjoyed at a "French restaurant" in New Orleans--"dissipating on a
ten-dollar dinner--tell it not to Ma!"--where they had sheepshead fish,
oysters, birds, mushrooms, and what not, "after which the day was too far
gone to do anything." So it appears that he was not always reading
Macaulay or studying French and astronomy, but sometimes went frivoling
with his old chief, now his chum, always his dear friend.

Another letter records a visit with Pamela to a picture-gallery in St.
Louis where was being exhibited Church's "Heart of the Andes." He
describes the picture in detail and with vast enthusiasm.

"I have seen it several times," he concludes, "but it is always a new
picture--totally new--you seem to see nothing the second time that you
saw the first."

Further along he tells of having taken his mother and the girls--his
cousin Ella Creel and another--for a trip down the river to New Orleans.

    Ma was delighted with her trip, but she was disgusted with the girls
    for allowing me to embrace and kiss them--and she was horrified at
    the 'schottische' as performed by Miss Castle and myself. She was
    perfectly willing for me to dance until 12 o'clock at the imminent
    peril of my going to sleep on the after-watch--but then she would
    top off with a very inconsistent sermon on dancing in general;
    ending with a terrific broadside aimed at that heresy of heresies,
    the 'schottische'.

    I took Ma and the girls in a carriage round that portion of New
    Orleans where the finest gardens and residences are to be seen, and,
    although it was a blazing hot, dusty day, they seemed hugely
    delighted. To use an expression which is commonly ignored in polite
    society, they were "hell-bent" on stealing some of the luscious-
    looking oranges from branches which overhung the fence, but I
    restrained them.

In another letter of this period we get a hint of the future Mark Twain.
It was written to John T. Moore, a young clerk on the John J. Roe.

    What a fool old Adam was. Had everything his own way; had succeeded
    in gaining the love of the best-looking girl in the neighborhood,
    but yet, unsatisfied with his conquest, he had to eat a miserable
    little apple. Ah, John, if you had been in his place you would not
    have eaten a mouthful of the apple--that is, if it had required any
    exertion. I have noticed that you shun exertion. There comes in
    the difference between us. I court exertion. I love work. Why,
    sir, when I have a piece of work to perform, I go away to myself,
    sit down in the shade, and muse over the coming enjoyment.
    Sometimes I am so industrious that I muse too long.

There remains another letter of this period--a sufficiently curious
document. There was in those days a famous New Orleans clairvoyant known
as Madame Caprell. Some of the young pilot's friends had visited her
and obtained what seemed to be satisfying results. From time to time
they had urged him to visit the fortune-teller, and one idle day he
concluded to make the experiment. As soon as he came away he wrote to
Orion in detail.

    She's a very pleasant little lady--rather pretty--about 28--say
    5 feet 2 1/4--would weigh 116--has black eyes and hair--is polite
    and intelligent--used good language, and talks much faster than I
    do.

    She invited me into the little back parlor, closed the door; and we
    were alone. We sat down facing each other. Then she asked my age.
    Then she put her hands before her eyes a moment, and commenced
    talking as if she had a good deal to say and not much time to say it
    in. Something after this style:

    'Madame.' Yours is a watery planet; you gain your livelihood on the
    water; but you should have been a lawyer--there is where your
    talents lie; you might have distinguished yourself as an orator, or
    as an editor--, you have written a great deal; you write well--but
    you are rather out of practice; no matter--you will be in practice
    some day; you have a superb constitution, and as excellent health as
    any man in the world; you have great powers of endurance; in your
    profession your strength holds out against the longest sieges
    without flagging; still, the upper part of your lungs, the top of
    them, is slightly affected--you must take care of yourself; you do
    not drink, but you use entirely too much tobacco; and you must stop
    it; mind, not moderate, but stop the use of it, totally; then I can
    almost promise you 86, when you will surely die; otherwise, look out
    for 28, 31, 34, 47, and 65; be careful--for you are not of a long-
    lived race, that is, on your father's side; you are the only healthy
    member of your family, and the only one in it who has anything like
    the certainty of attaining to a great age--so, stop using tobacco,
    and be careful of yourself.... In some respects you take after your
    father, but you are much more like your mother, who belongs to the
    long-lived, energetic side of the house.... You never brought all
    your energies to bear upon any subject but what you accomplished it
    --for instance, you are self-made, self-educated.

    'S. L. C.' Which proves nothing.

    'Madame.' Don't interrupt. When you sought your present
    occupation, you found a thousand obstacles in your way--obstacles
    unknown--not even suspected by any save you and me, since you keep
    such matter to yourself--but you fought your way, and hid the long
    struggle under a mask of cheerfulness, which saved your friends
    anxiety on your account. To do all this requires the qualities
    which I have named.

    'S. L. C.' You flatter well, Madame.

    'Madame.' Don't interrupt. Up to within a short time you had
    always lived from hand to mouth--now you are in easy circumstances
    --for which you need give credit to no one but yourself. The
    turning-point in your life occurred in 1840-7-8.

    'S. L. C.' Which was?

    'Madame.' A death, perhaps, and this threw you upon the world and
    made you what you are; it was always intended that you should make
    yourself; therefore, it was well that this calamity occurred as
    early as it did. You will never die of water, although your career
    upon it in the future seems well sprinkled with misfortune. You
    will continue upon the water for some time yet; you will not retire
    finally until ten years from now.... What is your brother's age?
    23--and a lawyer? and in pursuit of an office? Well, he stands a
    better chance than the other two, and he may get it; he is too
    visionary--is always flying off on a new hobby; this will never do
    --tell him I said so. He is a good lawyer--a very good lawyer--and
    a fine speaker--is very popular and much respected, and makes many
    friends; but although he retains their friendship, he loses their
    confidence by displaying his instability of character.... The land
    he has now will be very valuable after a while----
    'S. L. C.' Say 250 years hence, or thereabouts, Madame----
    'Madame.' No--less time--but never mind the land, that is a
    secondary consideration--let him drop that for the present, and
    devote himself to his business and politics with all his might, for
    he must hold offices under Government....

    After a while you will possess a good deal of property--retire at
    the end of ten years--after which your pursuits will be literary
    --try the law--you will certainly succeed. I am done now. If you
    have any questions to ask--ask them freely--and if it be in my
    power, I will answer without reserve--without reserve.

    I asked a few questions of minor importance-paid her and left-under
    the decided impression that going to the fortune-teller's was just
    as good as going to the opera, and cost scarcely a trifle more
    --ergo, I will disguise myself and go again, one of these days, when
    other amusements fail. Now isn't she the devil? That is to say,
    isn't she a right smart little woman?

    When you want money, let Ma know, and she will send it. She and
    Pamela are always fussing about change, so I sent them a hundred and
    twenty quarters yesterday--fiddler's change enough to last till I
    get back, I reckon.
                                SAM.

In the light of preceding and subsequent events, we must confess that
Madame Caprell was "indeed a right smart little woman." She made
mistakes enough (the letter is not quoted in full), but when we remember
that she not only gave his profession at the moment, but at least
suggested his career for the future; that she approximated the year of
his father's death as the time when he was thrown upon the world; that
she admonished him against his besetting habit, tobacco; that she read.
minutely not only his characteristics, but his brother Orion's; that she
outlined the struggle in his conquest of the river; that she seemingly
had knowledge of Orion's legal bent and his connection with the Tennessee
land, all seems remarkable enough, supposing, of course, she had no
material means of acquiring knowledge--one can never know certainly about
such things.




XXIX

THE END OF PILOTING

It is curious, however, that Madame Caprell, with clairvoyant vision,
should not have seen an important event then scarcely more than two
months distant: the breaking-out of the Civil War, with the closing of
the river and the end of Mark Twain's career as a pilot. Perhaps these
things were so near as to be "this side" the range of second sight.

There had been plenty of war-talk, but few of the pilots believed that
war was really coming. Traveling that great commercial highway, the
river, with intercourse both of North and South, they did not believe
that any political differences would be allowed to interfere with the
nation's trade, or would be settled otherwise than on the street corners,
in the halls of legislation, and at the polls. True, several States,
including Louisiana, had declared the Union a failure and seceded; but
the majority of opinions were not clear as to how far a State had rights
in such a matter, or as to what the real meaning of secession might be.
Comparatively few believed it meant war. Samuel Clemens had no such
belief. His Madame Caprell letter bears date of February 6, 1861, yet
contains no mention of war or of any special excitement in New Orleans
--no forebodings as to national conditions.

Such things came soon enough: President Lincoln was inaugurated on the
4th of March, and six weeks later Fort Sumter was fired upon. Men began
to speak out then and to take sides.

It was a momentous time in the Association Rooms. There were pilots who
would go with the Union; there were others who would go with the
Confederacy. Horace Bixby was one of the former, and in due time became
chief of the Union River Service. Another pilot named Montgomery (Samuel
Clemens had once steered for him) declared for the South, and later
commanded the Confederate Mississippi fleet. They were all good friends,
and their discussions, though warm, were not always acrimonious; but they
took sides.

A good many were not very clear as to their opinions. Living both North
and South as they did, they saw various phases of the question and
divided their sympathies. Some were of one conviction one day and of
another the next. Samuel Clemens was of the less radical element. He
knew there was a good deal to be said for either cause; furthermore, he
was not then bloodthirsty. A pilot-house with its elevated position and
transparency seemed a poor place to be in when fighting was going on.

"I'll think about it," he said. "I'm not very anxious to get up into a
glass perch and be shot at by either side. I'll go home and reflect on
the matter."

He did not realize it, but he had made his last trip as a pilot. It is
rather curious that his final brief note-book entry should begin with his
future nom de plume--a memorandum of soundings--"mark twain," and should
end with the words "no lead."

He went up the river as a passenger on a steamer named the Uncle Sam. Zeb
Leavenworth was one of the pilots, and Sam Clemens usually stood watch
with him. They heard war-talk all the way and saw preparations, but they
were not molested, though at Memphis they basely escaped the blockade.
At Cairo, Illinois, they saw soldiers drilling--troops later commanded by
Grant. The Uncle Sam came steaming up toward St. Louis, those on board
congratulating themselves on having come through unscathed. They were
not quite through, however. Abreast of Jefferson Barracks they suddenly
heard the boom of a cannon and saw a great whorl of smoke drifting in
their direction. They did not realize that it was a signal--a thunderous
halt--and kept straight on. Less than a minute later there was another
boom, and a shell exploded directly in front of the pilot-house, breaking
a lot of glass and destroying a good deal of the upper decoration. Zeb
Leavenworth fell back into a corner with a yell.

"Good Lord Almighty! Sam;" he said, "what do they mean by that?"

Clemens stepped to the wheel and brought the boat around. "I guess they
want us to wait a minute, Zeb," he said.

They were examined and passed. It was the last steamboat to make the
trip from New Orleans to St. Louis. Mark Twain's pilot-days were over.
He would have grieved had he known this fact.

"I loved the profession far better than any I have followed since," he
long afterward declared, "and I took a measureless pride in it."

The dreamy, easy, romantic existence suited him exactly. A sovereign and
an autocrat, the pilot's word was law; he wore his responsibilities as a
crown. As long as he lived Samuel Clemens would return to those old days
with fondness and affection, and with regret that they were no more.




XXX

THE SOLDIER

Clemens spent a few days in St. Louis (in retirement, for there was a
pressing war demand for Mississippi pilots), then went up to Hannibal to
visit old friends. They were glad enough to see him, and invited him to
join a company of gay military enthusiasts who were organizing to "help
Gov. 'Claib' Jackson repel the invader." A good many companies were
forming in and about Hannibal, and sometimes purposes were conflicting
and badly mixed. Some of the volunteers did not know for a time which
invader they intended to drive from Missouri soil, and more than one
company in the beginning was made up of young fellows whose chief
ambition was to have a lark regardless as to which cause they might
eventually espouse.

--[The military organizations of Hannibal and Palmyra, in 1861, were as
follows: The Marion Artillery; the Silver Grays; Palmyra Guards; the W.
E. Dennis company, and one or two others. Most of them were small
private affairs, usually composed of about half-and-half Union and
Confederate men, who knew almost nothing of the questions or conditions,
and disbanded in a brief time, to attach themselves to the regular
service according as they developed convictions. The general idea of
these companies was a little camping-out expedition and a good time. One
such company one morning received unexpected reinforcements. They saw
the approach of the recruits, and, remarking how well drilled the new
arrivals seemed to be, mistook them for the enemy and fled.]

Samuel Clemens had by this time decided, like Lee, that he would go with
his State and lead battalions to victory. The "battalion" in this
instance consisted of a little squad of young fellows of his own age,
mostly pilots and schoolmates, including Sam Bowen, Ed Stevens, and Ab
Grimes, about a dozen, all told. They organized secretly, for the Union
militia was likely to come over from Illinois any time and look up any
suspicious armies that made an open demonstration. An army might lose
enthusiasm and prestige if it spent a night or two in the calaboose.

So they met in a secret place above Bear Creek Hill, just as Tom Sawyer's
red-handed bandits had gathered so long before (a good many of them were
of the same lawless lot), and they planned how they would sell their
lives on the field of glory, just as Tom Sawyer's band might have done if
it had thought about playing "War," instead of "Indian" and "Pirate" and
"Bandit" with fierce raids on peach orchards and melon patches. Then, on
the evening before marching away, they stealthily called on their
sweethearts--those who had them did, and the others pretended sweethearts
for the occasion--and when it was dark and mysterious they said good-by
and suggested that maybe those girls would never see them again. And as
always happens in such a case, some of them were in earnest, and two or
three of the little group that slipped away that night never did come
back, and somewhere sleep in unmarked graves.

The "two Sams"--Sam Bowen and Sam Clemens--called on Patty Gore and Julia
Willis for their good-by visit, and, when they left, invited the girls to
"walk through the pickets" with them, which they did as far as Bear Creek
Hill. The girls didn't notice any pickets, because the pickets were away
calling on girls, too, and probably wouldn't be back to begin picketing
for some time. So the girls stood there and watched the soldiers march
up Bear Creek Hill and disappear among the trees.

The army had a good enough time that night, marching through the brush
and vines toward New London, though this sort of thing grew rather
monotonous by morning. When they took a look at themselves by daylight,
with their nondescript dress and accoutrements, there was some thing
about it all which appealed to one's sense of humor rather than to his
patriotism. Colonel Ralls, of Ralls County, however, received them
cordially and made life happier for them with a good breakfast and some
encouraging words. He was authorized to administer the oath of office,
he said, and he proceeded to do it, and made them a speech besides; also
he sent out notice to some of the neighbors--to Col. Bill Splawn, Farmer
Nuck Matson, and others--that the community had an army on its hands and
perhaps ought to do something for it. This brought in a number of
contributions, provisions, paraphernalia, and certain superfluous horses
and mules, which converted the battalion into a cavalry, and made it
possible for it to move on to the front without further delay. Samuel
Clemens, mounted on a small yellow mule whose tail had been trimmed down
to a tassel at the end in a style that suggested his name, Paint Brush,
upholstered and supplemented with an extra pair of cowskin boots, a pair
of gray blankets, a home-made quilt, frying-pan, a carpet sack, a small
valise, an overcoat, an old-fashioned Kentucky rifle, twenty yards of
rope, and an umbrella, was a representative unit of the brigade. The
proper thing for an army loaded like that was to go into camp, and they
did it. They went over on Salt River, near Florida, and camped not far
from a farm-house with a big log stable; the latter they used as
headquarters. Somebody suggested that when they went into battle they
ought to have short hair, so that in a hand-to-hand conflict the enemy
could not get hold of it. Tom Lyon found a pair of sheep-shears in the
stable and acted as barber. They were not very sharp shears, but the
army stood the torture for glory in the field, and a group of little
darkies collected from the farm-house to enjoy the performance. The army
then elected its officers. William Ely was chosen captain, with Asa
Glasscock as first lieutenant. Samuel Clemens was then voted second
lieutenant, and there were sergeants and orderlies. There were only
three privates when the election was over, and these could not be
distinguished by their deportment. There was scarcely any discipline in
this army.

Then it set in to rain. It rained by day and it rained by night. Salt
River rose until it was bank full and overflowed the bottoms. Twice
there was a false night alarm of the enemy approaching, and the battalion
went slopping through the mud and brush into the dark, picking out the
best way to retreat, plodding miserably back to camp when the alarm was
over. Once they fired a volley at a row of mullen stalks, waving on the
brow of a hill, and once a picket shot at his own horse that had got
loose and had wandered toward him in the dusk.

The rank and file did not care for picket duty. Sam Bowen--ordered by
Lieutenant Clemens to go on guard one afternoon--denounced his superior
and had to be threatened with court-martial and death. Sam went finally,
but he sat in a hot open place and swore at the battalion and the war in
general, and finally went to sleep in the broiling sun. These things
began to tell on patriotism. Presently Lieutenant Clemens developed a
boil, and was obliged to make himself comfortable with some hay in a
horse-trough, where he lay most of the day, violently denouncing the war
and the fools that invented it. Then word came that "General" Tom
Harris, who was in command of the district, was stopping at a farmhouse
two miles away, living on the fat of the land.

That settled it. Most of them knew Tom Harris, and they regarded his
neglect of them as perfidy. They broke camp without further ceremony.

Lieutenant Clemens needed assistance to mount Paint Brush, and the little
mule refused to cross the river; so Ab Grimes took the coil of rope,
hitched one end of it to his own saddle and the other end to Paint
Brush's neck. Grimes was mounted on a big horse, and when he started it
was necessary for Paint Brush to follow. Arriving at the farther bank,
Grimes looked around, and was horrified to see that the end of the rope
led down in the water with no horse and rider in view. He spurred up the
bank, and the hat of Lieutenant Clemens and the ears of Paint Brush
appeared.

"Ah," said Clemens, as he mopped his face, "do you know that little devil
waded all the way across?"

A little beyond the river they met General Harris, who ordered them back
to camp. They admonished him to "go there himself." They said they had
been in that camp and knew all about it. They were going now where there
was food--real food and plenty of it. Then he begged them, but it was no
use. By and by they stopped at a farm-house for supplies. A tall, bony
woman came to the door:

"You're secesh, ain't you?"

They acknowledged that they were defenders of the cause and that they
wanted to buy provisions. The request seemed to inflame her.

"Provisions!" she screamed. "Provisions for secesh, and my husband a
colonel in the Union Army. You get out of here!"

She reached for a hickory hoop-pole that stood by the door, and the army
moved on. When they arrived at Col. Bill Splawn's that night Colonel
Splawn and his family had gone to bed, and it seemed unwise to disturb
them. The hungry army camped in the barnyard and crept into the hay-loft
to sleep. Presently somebody yelled "Fire!" One of the boys had been
smoking and started the hay. Lieutenant Clemens suddenly wakened, made a
quick rolling movement from the blaze, and rolled out of a big hay-window
into the barnyard below. The rest of the army, startled into action,
seized the burning hay and pitched it out of the same window. The
lieutenant had sprained his ankle when he struck the ground, and his boil
was far from well, but when the burning hay descended he forgot his
disabilities. Literally and figuratively this was the final straw. With
a voice and vigor suited to the urgencies of the case, he made a spring
from under the burning stuff, flung off the remnants, and with them his
last vestige of interest in the war. The others, now that the fire was,
out, seemed to think the incident boisterously amusing. Whereupon the
lieutenant rose up and told them, collectively and individually, what he
thought of them; also he spoke of the war and the Confederacy, and of the
human race at large. They helped him in, then, for his ankle was
swelling badly. Next morning, when Colonel Splawn had given them a good
breakfast, the army set out for New London.

But Lieutenant Clemens never got any farther than Nuck Matson's
farm-house. His ankle was so painful by that time that Mrs. Matson had
him put to bed, where he stayed for several weeks, recovering from the
injury and stress of war. A little negro boy was kept on watch for Union
detachments--they were passing pretty frequently now--and when one came
in sight the lieutenant was secluded until the danger passed. When he
was able to travel, he had had enough of war and the Confederacy. He
decided to visit Orion in Keokuk. Orion was a Union abolitionist and
might lead him to mend his doctrines.

As for the rest of the army, it was no longer a unit in the field. Its
members had drifted this way and that, some to return to their
occupations, some to continue in the trade of war. Sam Bowen is said to
have been caught by the Federal troops and put to sawing wood in the
stockade at Hannibal. Ab (A. C.) Grimes became a noted Confederate spy
and is still among those who have lived to furnish the details here set
down. Properly officered and disciplined, that detachment would have
made as brave soldiers as any. Military effectiveness is a matter of
leaders and tactics.

Mark Twain's own Private History of a 'Campaign that Failed' is, of
course, built on this episode. He gives us a delicious account, even if
it does not strikingly resemble the occurrence. The story might have
been still better if he had not introduced the shooting of the soldier in
the dark. The incident was invented, of course, to present the real
horror of war, but it seems incongruous in this burlesque campaign, and,
to some extent at least, it missed fire in its intention.

--[In a book recently published, Mark Twain's "nephew" is quoted as
authority for the statement that Mark Twain was detailed for river duty,
captured, and paroled, captured again, and confined in a
tobacco-warehouse in St. Louis, etc. Mark Twain had but one nephew:
Samuel E. Moffett, whose Biographical Sketch (vol. xxii, Mark Twain's
Works) contains no such statement; and nothing of the sort occurred.]




XXXI

OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY

When Madame Caprell prophesied that Orion Clemens would hold office under
government, she must have seen with true clairvoyant vision. The
inauguration of Abraham Lincoln brought Edward Bates into his Cabinet,
and Bates was Orion's friend. Orion applied for something, and got it.
James W. Nye had been appointed Territorial governor of Nevada, and Orion
was made Territorial secretary. You could strain a point and refer to
the office as "secretary of state," which was an imposing title.
Furthermore, the secretary would be acting governor in the governor's
absence, and there would be various subsidiary honors. When Lieutenant
Clemens arrived in Keokuk, Orion was in the first flush of his triumph
and needed only money to carry him to the scene of new endeavor. The
late lieutenant C. S. A. had accumulated money out of his pilot salary,
and there was no comfortable place just then in the active Middle West
for an officer of either army who had voluntarily retired from the
service. He agreed that if Orion would overlook his recent brief
defection from the Union and appoint him now as his (Orion's) secretary,
he would supply the funds for both overland passages, and they would
start with no unnecessary delay for a country so new that all human
beings, regardless of previous affiliations and convictions, were flung
into the common fusing-pot and recast in the general mold of pioneer.

The offer was a boon to Orion. He was always eager to forgive, and the
money was vitally necessary. In the briefest possible time he had packed
his belongings, which included a large unabridged dictionary, and the
brothers were on their way to St. Louis for final leave-taking before
setting out for the great mysterious land of promise--the Pacific West.
From St. Louis they took the boat for St. Jo, whence the Overland stage
started, and for six days "plodded" up the shallow, muddy, snaggy
Missouri, a new experience for the pilot of the Father of Waters.

    In fact, the boat might almost as well have gone to St. Jo by land,
    for she was walking most of the time, anyhow--climbing over reefs
    and clambering over snags patiently and laboriously all day long.
    The captain said she was a "bully" boat, and all she wanted was some
    "shear" and a bigger wheel. I thought she wanted a pair of stilts,
    but I had the deep sagacity not to say so.'--['Roughing It'.]--

At St. Jo they paid one hundred and fifty dollars apiece for their stage
fare (with something extra for the dictionary), and on the twenty-sixth
of July, 1861, set out on that long, delightful trip behind sixteen
galloping horses--or mules--never stopping except for meals or to change
teams, heading steadily into the sunset, following it from horizon to
horizon over the billowy plains, across the snow-clad Rockies, covering
the seventeen hundred miles between St. Jo and Carson City (including a
two-day halt in Salt Lake City) in nineteen glorious days. What an
inspiration in such a trip! In 'Roughing It' he tells it all, and says:
"Even at this day it thrills me through and through to think of the life,
the gladness, and the wild sense of freedom that used to make the blood
dance in my face on those fine Overland mornings."

The nights, with the uneven mail-bags for a bed and the bounding
dictionary for company, were less exhilarating; but then youth does not
mind.

    All things being now ready, stowed the uneasy dictionary where it
    would lie as quiet as possible, and placed the water-canteen and
    pistols where we could find them in the dark. Then we smoked a
    final pipe and swapped a final yarn; after which we put the pipes,
    tobacco, and bag of coin in snug holes and caves among the mail-
    bags, and made the place as dark as the inside of a cow, as the
    conductor phrased it in his picturesque way. It was certainly as
    dark as any place could be--nothing was even dimly visible in it.
    And finally we rolled ourselves up like silkworms, each person in
    his own blanket, and sank peacefully to sleep.

Youth loves that sort of thing, despite its inconvenience. And sometimes
the clatter of the pony-rider swept by in the night, carrying letters at
five dollars apiece and making the Overland trip in eight days; just a
quick beat of hoofs in the distance, a dash, and a hail from the
darkness, the beat of hoofs again, then only the rumble of the stage and
the even, swinging gallop of the mules. Sometimes they got a glimpse of
the ponyrider by day--a flash, as it were, as he sped by. And every
morning brought new scenery, new phases of frontier life, including, at
last, what was to them the strangest phase of all, Mormonism.

They spent two wonderful days at Salt Lake City, that mysterious and
remote capital of the great American monarchy, who still flaunts her
lawless, orthodox creed the religion of David and Solomon--and thrives.
An obliging official made it his business to show them the city and the
life there, the result of which would be those amusing chapters in
'Roughing It' by and by. The Overland travelers set out refreshed from
Salt Lake City, and with a new supply of delicacies--ham, eggs, and
tobacco--things that make such a trip worth while. The author of
'Roughing It' assures us of this:

    Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. Ham and eggs, and after
    these a pipe--an old, rank, delicious pipe--ham and eggs and
    scenery, a "down-grade," a flying coach, a fragrant pipe, and a
    contented heart--these make happiness. It is what all the ages have
    struggled for.

But one must read all the story of that long-ago trip. It was a trip so
well worth taking, so well worth recording, so well worth reading and
rereading to-day. We can only read of it now. The Overland stage long
ago made its last trip, and will not start any more. Even if it did, the
life and conditions, the very scenery itself, would not be the same.




XXXII

THE PIONEER

It was a hot, dusty August 14th that the stage reached Carson City and
drew up before the Ormsby Hotel. It was known that the Territorial
secretary was due to arrive; and something in the nature of a reception,
with refreshments and frontier hospitality, had been planned. Governor
Nye, formerly police commissioner in New York City, had arrived a short
time before, and with his party of retainers ("heelers" we would call
them now), had made an imposing entrance. Perhaps something of the sort
was expected with the advent of the secretary of state. Instead, the
committee saw two way-worn individuals climb down from the stage,
unkempt, unshorn--clothed in the roughest of frontier costume, the same
they had put on at St. Jo--dusty, grimy, slouchy, and weather-beaten with
long days of sun and storm and alkali desert dust. It is not likely
there were two more unprepossessing officials on the Pacific coast at
that moment than the newly arrived Territorial secretary and his brother:
Somebody identified them, and the committee melted away; the half-formed
plan of a banquet faded out and was not heard of again. Soap and water
and fresh garments worked a transformation; but that first impression had
been fatal to festivities of welcome.

Carson City, the capital of Nevada, was a "wooden town," with a
population of two thousand souls. Its main street consisted of a few
blocks of small frame stores, some of which are still standing. In
'Roughing It' the author writes:

    In the middle of the town, opposite the stores, was a "Plaza," which
    is native to all towns beyond the Rocky Mountains, a large,
    unfenced, level vacancy with a Liberty Pole in it, and very useful
    as a place for public auctions, horse trades, and mass-meetings, and
    likewise for teamsters to camp in. Two other sides of the Plaza
    were faced by stores, offices, and stables. The rest of Carson City
    was pretty scattering.

One sees the place pretty clearly from this brief picture of his, but it
requires an extract from a letter written to his mother somewhat later to
populate it. The mineral excitement was at its height in those days of
the early sixties, and had brought together such a congress of nations as
only the greed for precious metal can assemble. The sidewalks and
streets of Carson, and the Plaza, thronged all day with a motley
aggregation--a museum of races, which it was an education merely to gaze
upon. Jane Clemens had required him to write everything just as it was
--"no better and no worse."

    Well--[he says]--, "Gold Hill" sells at $5,000 per foot, cash down;
    "Wild Cat" isn't worth ten cents. The country is fabulously rich in
    gold, silver, copper, lead, coal, iron, quicksilver, marble,
    granite, chalk, plaster of Paris (gypsum), thieves, murderers,
    desperadoes, ladies, children, lawyers, Christians, Indians,
    Chinamen, Spaniards, gamblers, sharpens; coyotes (pronounced ki-yo-
    ties), poets, preachers, and jackass rabbits. I overheard a
    gentleman say, the other day, that it was "the d---dest country
    under the sun," and that comprehensive conception I fully subscribe
    to. It never rains here, and the dew never falls. No flowers grow
    here, and no green thing gladdens the eye. The birds that fly over
    the land carry their provisions with them. Only the crow and the
    raven tarry with us. Our city lies in the midst of a desert of the
    purest, most unadulterated and uncompromising sand, in which
    infernal soil nothing but that fag-end of vegetable creation, "sage-
    brush," ventures to grow. . . . I said we are situated in a flat,
    sandy desert--true. And surrounded on all sides by such prodigious
    mountains that when you look disdainfully down (from them) upon the
    insignificant village of Carson, in that instant you are seized with
    a burning desire to stretch forth your hand, put the city in your
    pocket, and walk off with it.

    As to churches, I believe they have got a Catholic one here, but,
    like that one the New York fireman spoke of, I believe "they don't
    run her now."

Carson has been through several phases of change since this was written
--for better and for worse. It is a thriving place in these later days,
and new farming conditions have improved the country roundabout. But it
was a desert outpost then, a catch-all for the human drift which every
whirlwind of discovery sweeps along. Gold and silver hunting and mine
speculations were the industries--gambling, drinking, and murder were the
diversions--of the Nevada capital. Politics developed in due course,
though whether as a business or a diversion is not clear at this time.

The Clemens brothers took lodging with a genial Irishwoman, Mrs. Murphy,
a New York retainer of Governor Nye, who boarded the camp-followers.
--[The Mrs. O'Flannigan of 'Roughing It'.]--This retinue had come in the
hope of Territorial pickings and mine adventure--soldiers of fortune they
were, and a good-natured lot all together. One of them, Bob Howland, a
nephew of the governor, attracted Samuel Clemens by his clean-cut manner
and commanding eye.

"The man who has that eye doesn't need to go armed," he wrote later. "He
can move upon an armed desperado and quell him and take him a prisoner
without saying a single word." It was the same Bob Howland who would be
known by and by as the most fearless man in the Territory; who, as city
marshal of Aurora, kept that lawless camp in subjection, and, when the
friends of a lot of condemned outlaws were threatening an attack with
general massacre, sent the famous message to Governor Nye: "All quiet in
Aurora. Five men will be hung in an hour." And it was quiet, and the
programme was carried out. But this is a digression and somewhat
premature.

Orion Clemens, anxious for laurels, established himself in the meager
fashion which he thought the government would approve; and his brother,
finding neither duties nor salary attached to his secondary position,
devoted himself mainly to the study of human nature as exhibited under
frontier conditions. Sometimes, when the nights were cool, he would
build a fire in the office stove, and, with Bob Howland and a few other
choice members of the "Brigade" gathered around, would tell river yarns
in that inimitable fashion which would win him devoted audiences all his
days. His river life had increased his natural languor of habit, and his
slow speech heightened the lazy impression which he was never unwilling
to convey. His hearers generally regarded him as an easygoing, indolent
good fellow with a love of humor--with talent, perhaps--but as one not
likely ever to set the world afire. They did not happen to think that
the same inclination which made them crowd about to listen and applaud
would one day win for him the attention of all mankind.

Within a brief time Sam Clemens (he was never known as otherwise than
"Sam" among those pioneers) was about the most conspicuous figure on the
Carson streets. His great bushy head of auburn hair, his piercing,
twinkling eyes, his loose, lounging walk, his careless disorder of dress,
drew the immediate attention even of strangers; made them turn to look a
second time and then inquire as to his identity.

He had quickly adapted himself to the frontier mode. Lately a river
sovereign and dandy, in fancy percales and patent leathers, he had become
the roughest of rough-clad pioneers, in rusty slouch hat, flannel shirt,
coarse trousers slopping half in and half out of the heavy cowskin boots
Always something of a barbarian in love with the loose habit of
unconvention, he went even further than others and became a sort of
paragon of disarray. The more energetic citizens of Carson did not
prophesy much for his future among them. Orion Clemens, with the stir
and bustle of the official new broom, earned their quick respect; but his
brother--well, they often saw him leaning for an hour or more at a time
against an awning support at the corner of King and Carson streets,
smoking a short clay pipe and staring drowsily at the human kaleidoscope
of the Plaza, scarcely changing his position, just watching, studying,
lost in contemplation--all of which was harmless enough, of course, but
how could any one ever get a return out of employment like that?

Samuel Clemens did not catch the mining fever immediately; there was too
much to see at first to consider any special undertaking. The mere
coming to the frontier was for the present enough; he had no plans. His
chief purpose was to see the world beyond the Rockies, to derive from it
such amusement and profit as might fall in his way. The war would end,
by and by, and he would go back to the river, no doubt. He was already
not far from homesick for the "States" and his associations there. He
closed one letter:

    I heard a military band play "What Are the Wild Waves Saying" the
    other night, and it brought Ella Creel and Belle (Stotts) across the
    desert in an instant, for they sang the song in Orion's yard the
    first time I ever heard it. It was like meeting an old friend. I
    tell you I could have swallowed that whole band, trombone and all,
    if such a compliment would have been any gratification to them.

His friends contracted the mining mania; Bob Howland and Raish Phillips
went down to Aurora and acquired "feet" in mini-claims and wrote him
enthusiastic letters. With Captain Nye, the governor's brother, he
visited them and was presented with an interest which permitted him to
contribute an assessment every now and then toward the development of the
mine; but his enthusiasm still languished.

He was interested more in the native riches above ground than in those
concealed under it. He had heard that the timber around Lake Bigler
(Tahoe) promised vast wealth which could be had for the asking. The lake
itself and the adjacent mountains were said to be beautiful beyond the
dream of art. He decided to locate a timber claim on its shores.

He made the trip afoot with a young Ohio lad, John Kinney, and the
account of this trip as set down in 'Roughing It' is one of the best
things in the book. The lake proved all they had expected--more than
they expected; it was a veritable habitation of the gods, with its
delicious, winy atmosphere, its vast colonnades of pines, its measureless
depths of water, so clear that to drift on it was like floating high
aloft in mid-nothingness. They staked out a timber claim and made a
semblance of fencing it and of building a habitation, to comply with the
law; but their chief employment was a complete abandonment to the quiet
luxury of that dim solitude: wandering among the trees, lounging along
the shore, or drifting on that transparent, insubstantial sea. They did
not sleep in their house, he says:

"It never occurred to us, for one thing; and, besides, it was built to
hold the ground, and that was enough. We did not wish to strain it."

They lived by their camp-fire on the borders of the lake, and one day--it
was just at nightfall--it got away from them, fired the forest, and
destroyed their fence and habitation. His picture in 'Roughing It' of
the superb night spectacle, the mighty mountain conflagration reflected
in the waters of the lake, is splendidly vivid. The reader may wish to
compare it with this extract from a letter written to Pamela at the time.

    The level ranks of flame were relieved at intervals by the standard-
    bearers, as we called the tall, dead trees, wrapped in fire, and
    waving their blazing banners a hundred feet in the air. Then we
    could turn from the scene to the lake, and see every branch and leaf
    and cataract of flame upon its banks perfectly reflected, as in a
    gleaming, fiery mirror. The mighty roaring of the conflagration,
    together with our solitary and somewhat unsafe position (for there
    was no one within six miles of us), rendered the scene very
    impressive. Occasionally one of us would remove his pipe from his
    mouth and say, "Superb, magnificent!--beautifull--but--by the Lord
    God Almighty, if we attempt to sleep in this little patch to-night,
    we'll never live till morning!"

This is good writing too, but it lacks the fancy and the choice of
phrasing which would develop later. The fire ended their first excursion
to Tahoe, but they made others and located other claims--claims in which
the "folks at home," Mr. Moffett, James Lampton, and others, were
included. It was the same James Lampton who would one day serve as a
model for Colonel Sellers. Evidently Samuel Clemens had a good opinion
of his business capacity in that earlier day, for he writes:

    This is just the country for cousin Jim to live in. I don't believe
    it would take him six months to make $100,000 here if he had $3,000
    to commence with. I suppose he can't leave his family, though.

Further along in the same letter his own overflowing Seller's optimism
develops.

    Orion and I have confidence enough in this country to think that if
    the war lets us alone we can make Mr. Moffett rich without its ever
    costing him a cent or a particle of trouble.

This letter bears date of October 25th, and from it we gather that a
certain interest in mining claims had by this time developed.

    We have got about 1,650 feet of mining ground, and, if it proves
    good, Mr. Moffett's name will go in, and if not I can get "feet" for
    him in the spring.

    You see, Pamela, the trouble does not consist in getting mining
    ground--for there is plenty enough--but the money to work it with
    after you get it.

He refers to Pamela's two little children, his niece Annie and Baby Sam,
--[Samuel E. Moffett, in later life a well-known journalist and editor.]
--and promises to enter claims for them--timber claims probably--for he
was by no means sanguine as yet concerning the mines. That was a long
time ago. Tahoe land is sold by the lot, now, to summer residents. Those
claims would have been riches to-day, but they were all abandoned
presently, forgotten in the delirium which goes only with the pursuit of
precious ores.




XXXIII

THE PROSPECTOR

It was not until early winter that Samuel Clemens got the real mining
infection. Everybody had it by that time; the miracle is that he had not
fallen an earlier victim. The wildest stories of sudden fortune were in
the air, some of them undoubtedly true. Men had gone to bed paupers, on
the verge of starvation, and awakened to find themselves millionaires.
Others had sold for a song claims that had been suddenly found to be
fairly stuffed with precious ores. Cart-loads of bricks--silver and
gold--daily drove through the streets.

In the midst of these things reports came from the newly opened Humboldt
region--flamed up with a radiance that was fairly blinding. The papers
declared that Humboldt County "was the richest mineral region on God's
footstool." The mountains were said to be literally bursting with gold
and silver. A correspondent of the daily Territorial Enterprise fairly
wallowed in rhetoric, yet found words inadequate to paint the measureless
wealth of the Humboldt mines. No wonder those not already mad speedily
became so. No wonder Samuel Clemens, with his natural tendency to
speculative optimism, yielded to the epidemic and became as "frenzied as
the craziest." The air to him suddenly began to shimmer; all his
thoughts were of "leads" and "ledges" and "veins"; all his clouds had
silver linings; all his dreams were of gold. He joined an expedition at
once; he reproached himself bitterly for not having started earlier.

    Hurry was the word! We wasted no time. Our party consisted of four
    persons--a blacksmith sixty years of age, two young lawyers, and
    myself. We bought a wagon and two miserable old horses. We put
    1,800 pounds of provisions and mining tools in the wagon and drove
    out of Carson on a chilly December afternoon.

In a letter to his mother he states that besides provisions and mining
tools, their load consisted of certain luxuries viz., ten pounds of
killikinick, Watts's Hymns, fourteen decks of cards, Dombey and Son, a
cribbage-board, one small keg of lager-beer, and the "Carmina Sacra."

The two young lawyers were A. W.(Gus) Oliver (Oliphant in 'Roughing It'),
and W. H. Clagget. Sam Clemens had known Billy Clagget as a law student
in Keokuk, and they were brought together now by this association. Both
Clagget and Oliver were promising young men, and would be heard from in
time. The blacksmith's name was Tillou (Ballou), a sturdy, honest soul
with a useful knowledge of mining and the repair of tools. There were
also two dogs in the party--a small curly-tailed mongrel, Curney, the
property of Mr. Tillou, and a young hound. The combination seemed a
strong one.

It proved a weak one in the matter of horses. Oliver and Clemens had
furnished the team, and their selection had not been of the best. It was
two hundred miles to Humboldt, mostly across sand. The horses could not
drag their load and the miners too, so the miners got out. Then they
found it necessary to push.

    Not because we were fond of it, Ma--oh, no! but on Bunker's account.
    Bunker was the "near" horse on the larboard side, named after the
    attorney-general of this Territory. My horse--and I am sorry you do
    not know him personally, Ma, for I feel toward him, sometimes, as if
    he were a blood relation of our family--he is so lazy, you know--my
    horse--I was going to say, was the "off" horse on the starboard
    side. But it was on Bunker's account, principally, that we pushed
    behind the wagon. In fact, Ma, that horse had something on his mind
    all the way to Humboldt.--[S. L. C. to his mother. Published in
    the Keokuk (Iowa) Gate city.]--

So they had to push, and most of that two hundred miles through snow and
sand storm they continued to push and swear and groan, sustained only by
the thought that they must arrive at last, when their troubles would all
be at an end, for they would be millionaires in a brief time and never
know want or fatigue any more.

There were compensations: the camp-fire at night was cheerful, the food
satisfying. They bundled close under the blankets and, when it was too
cold to sleep, looked up at the stars, while the future entertainer of
kings would spin yarn after yarn that made his hearers forget their
discomforts. Judge Oliver, the last one of the party alive, in a recent
letter to the writer of this history, says:

    He was the life of the camp; but sometimes there would come a
    reaction and he could hardly speak for a day or two. One day a pack
    of wolves chased us, and the hound Sam speaks of never stopped to
    look back till he reached the next station, many miles ahead.

Judge Oliver adds that an Indian war had just ended, and that they
occasionally passed the charred ruin of a shack, and new graves: This was
disturbing enough. Then they came to that desolation of desolations, the
Alkali Desert, where the sand is of unknown depth, where the road is
strewn thickly with the carcasses of dead beasts of burden, the charred
remains of wagons, chains, bolts, and screws, which thirsty emigrants,
grown desperate, have thrown away in the grand hope of being able, when
less encumbered, to reach water.

They traveled all day and night, pushing through that fierce, waterless
waste to reach camp on the other side. It was three o'clock in the
morning when they got across and dropped down utterly exhausted. Judge
Oliver in his letter tells what happened then:

    The sun was high in the heavens when we were aroused from our sleep
    by a yelling band of Piute warriors. We were upon our feet in an
    instant. The pictures of burning cabins and the lonely graves we
    had passed were in our minds. Our scalps were still our own, and
    not dangling from the belts of our visitors. Sam pulled himself
    together, put his hand on his head as if to make sure he had not
    been scalped, and then with his inimitable drawl said: "Boys, they
    have left us our scalps. Let's give them all the flour and sugar
    they ask for." And we did give them a good supply, for we were
    grateful.

They were eleven weary days pushing their wagon and team the two hundred
miles to Unionville, Humboldt County, arriving at last in a driving
snow-storm. Unionville consisted of eleven poor cabins built in the
bottom of a canon, five on one side and six facing them on the other.
They were poor, three-sided, one-room huts, the fourth side formed by the
hill; the roof, a spread of white cotton. Stones used to roll down on
them sometimes, and Mark Twain tells of live stock--specifically of a
mule and cow--that interrupted the patient, long-suffering Oliver, who
was trying to write poetry, and only complained when at last "an entire
cow came rolling down the hill, crashed through on the table, and made a
shapeless wreck of everything."--['The Innocents Abroad.']

Judge Oliver still does not complain; but he denies the cow. He says
there were no cows in Humboldt in those days, so perhaps it was only a
literary cow, though in any case it will long survive. Judge Oliver's
name will go down with it to posterity.

In the letter which Samuel Clemens wrote home he tells of what they found
in Unionville.

    "National" there was selling at $50 per foot and assayed $2,496 per
    ton at the mint in San Francisco. And the "Alda Nueva," "Peru,"
    "Delirio," "Congress," "Independent," and others were immensely rich
    leads. And moreover, having winning ways with us, we could get
    "feet" enough to make us all rich one of these days.

"I confess with shame," says the author of 'Roughing It', "that I
expected to find masses of silver lying all about the ground." And he
adds that he slipped away from the cabin to find a claim on his own
account, and tells how he came staggering back under a load of golden
specimens; also how his specimens proved to be only worthless mica; and
how he learned that in mining nothing that glitters is gold. His account
in 'Roughing It' of the Humboldt mining experience is sufficiently good
history to make detail here unnecessary. Tillou instructed them in
prospecting, and in time they located a fairly promising claim. They
went to work on it with pick and shovel, then with drill and
blasting-powder. Then they gave it up.

"One week of this satisfied me. I resigned."

They tried to tunnel, but soon resigned again. It was pleasanter to
prospect and locate and trade claims and acquire feet in every new ledge
than it was to dig-and about as profitable. The golden reports of
Humboldt had been based on assays of selected rich specimens, and were
mainly delirium and insanity. The Clemens-Clagget-Oliver-Tillou
combination never touched their claims again with pick and shovel, though
their faith, or at least their hope, in them did not immediately die.
Billy Clagget put out his shingle as notary public, and Gus Oliver put
out his as probate judge. Sam Clemens and Tillou, with a fat-witted,
arrogant Prussian named Pfersdoff (Ollendorf) set out for Carson City. It
is not certain what became of the wagon and team, or of the two dogs.

The Carson travelers were water-bound at a tavern on the Carson River
(the scene of the "Arkansas" sketch), with a fighting, drinking lot.
Pfersdoff got them nearly drowned getting away, and finally succeeded in
getting them absolutely lost in the snow. The author of 'Roughing It'
tells us how they gave themselves up to die, and how each swore off
whatever he had in the way of an evil habit, how they cast their
tempters-tobacco, cards, and whisky-into the snow. He further tells us
how next morning, when they woke to find themselves alive, within a few
rods of a hostelry, they surreptitiously dug up those things again and,
deep in shame and luxury, resumed their fallen ways: It was the 29th of
January when they reached Carson City. They had been gone not quite two
months, one of which had been spent in travel. It was a brief period,
but it contained an episode, and it seemed like years.




XXXIV

TERRITORIAL CHARACTERISTICS

Meantime, the Territorial secretary had found difficulties in launching
the ship of state. There was no legislative hall in Carson City; and if
Abram Curry, one of the original owners of the celebrated Gould and Curry
mine--"Curry--old Curry--old Abe Curry," as he called himself--had not
tendered the use of a hall rent free, the first legislature would have
been obliged to "sit in the desert." Furthermore, Orion had met with
certain acute troubles of his own. The government at Washington had not
appreciated his economies in the matter of cheap office rental, and it
had stipulated the price which he was to pay for public printing and
various other services-prices fixed according to Eastern standards. These
prices did not obtain in Nevada, and when Orion, confident that because
of his other economies the comptroller would stretch a point and allow
the increased frontier tariff, he was met with the usual thick-headed
official lack of imagination, with the result that the excess paid was
deducted from his slender salary. With a man of less conscience this
condition would easily have been offset by another wherein other rates,
less arbitrary, would have been adjusted to negotiate the official
deficit. With Orion Clemens such a remedy was not even considered;
yielding, unstable, blown by every wind of influence though he was,
Orion's integrity was a rock.

Governor Nye was among those who presently made this discovery. Old
politician that he was--former police commissioner of New York City--Nye
took care of his own problems in the customary manner. To him, politics
was simply a game--to be played to win. He was a popular, jovial man,
well liked and thought of, but he did not lie awake, as Orion did,
planning economies for the government, or how to make up excess charges
out of his salary. To him Nevada was simply a doorway to the United
States Senate, and in the mean time his brigade required official
recognition and perquisites. The governor found Orion Clemens an
impediment to this policy. Orion could not be brought to a proper
political understanding of "special bills and accounts," and relations
between the secretary of state and the governor were becoming strained.

It was about this time that the man who had been potentate of the
pilot-house of a Mississippi River steamer returned from Humboldt. He
was fond of the governor, but he had still higher regard for the family
integrity. When he had heard Orion's troubled story, he called on
Governor Nye and delivered himself in his own fashion. In his former
employments he had acquired a vocabulary and moral backbone sufficient to
his needs. We may regret that no stenographic report was made of the
interview. It would be priceless now. But it is lost; we only know that
Orion's rectitude was not again assailed, and that curiously enough
Governor Nye apparently conceived a strong admiration and respect for his
brother.

Samuel Clemens, miner, remained but a brief time in Carson City--only
long enough to arrange for a new and more persistent venture. He did not
confess his Humboldt failure to his people; in fact, he had not as yet
confessed it to himself; his avowed purpose was to return to Humboldt
after a brief investigation of the Esmeralda mines. He had been paying
heavy assessments on his holdings there; and, with a knowledge of mining
gained at Unionville, he felt that his personal attention at Aurora might
be important. As a matter of fact, he was by this time fairly daft on
the subject of mines and mining, with the rest of the community for
company.

His earlier praises of the wonders and climate of Tahoe had inspired his
sister Pamela, always frail, with a desire to visit that health-giving
land. Perhaps he felt that he recommended the country somewhat too
highly.

"By George, Pamela," he said, "I begin to fear that I have invoked a
spirit of some kind or other, which I will find more than difficult to
allay." He proceeds to recommend California as a residence for any or
all of them, but he is clearly doubtful concerning Nevada.

    Some people are malicious enough to think that if the devil were set
    at liberty and told to confine himself to Nevada Territory, he would
    come here and look sadly around awhile, and then get homesick and go
    back to hell again .... Why, I have had my whiskers and mustaches
    so full of alkali dust that you'd have thought I worked in a starch
    factory and boarded in a flour barrel.

But then he can no longer restrain his youth and optimism. How could he,
with a fortune so plainly in view? It was already in his grasp in
imagination; he was on the way home with it.

    I expect to return to St. Louis in July--per steamer. I don't say
    that I will return then, or that I shall be able to do it--but I
    expect to--you bet. I came down here from Humboldt, in order to
    look after our Esmeralda interests. Yesterday, Bob Howland arrived
    here, and I have had a talk with him. He owns with me in the
    "Horatio and Derby" ledge. He says our tunnel is in 52 feet, and a
    small stream of water has been struck, which bids fair to become a
    "big thing" by the time the ledge is reached--sufficient to supply a
    mill. Now, if you knew anything of the value of water here, you
    would perceive at a glance that if the water should amount to 50 or
    100 inches, we wouldn't care whether school kept or not. If the
    ledge should prove to be worthless, we'd sell the water for money
    enough to give us quite a lift. But, you see, the ledge will not
    prove to be worthless. We have located, near by, a fine site for a
    mill, and when we strike the ledge, you know, we'll have a mill-
    site, water-power, and payrock, all handy. Then we sha'n't care
    whether we have capital or not. Mill folks will build us a mill,
    and wait for their pay. If nothing goes wrong, we'll strike the
    ledge in June--and if we do, I'll be home in July, you know.

He pauses at this point for a paragraph of self-analysis--characteristic
and crystal-clear.

    So, just keep your clothes on, Pamela, until I come. Don't you know
    that undemonstrated human calculations won't do to bet on? Don't
    you know that I have only talked, as yet, but proved nothing? Don't
    you know that I have expended money in this country but have made
    none myself? Don't you know that I have never held in my hands a
    gold or silver bar that belonged to me? Don't you know that it's
    all talk and no cider so far? Don't you know that people who always
    feel jolly, no matter where they are or what happens to them--who
    have the organ of Hope preposterously developed--who are endowed
    with an unconcealable sanguine temperament--who never feel concerned
    about the price of corn--and who cannot, by any possibility,
    discover any but the bright side of a picture--are very apt to go to
    extremes and exaggerate with 40-horse microscopic power?

                     But-but
              In the bright lexicon of youth,
              There is no such word as Fail--
                  and I'll prove it!

Whereupon, he lets himself go again, full-tilt:

    By George, if I just had a thousand dollars I'd be all right! Now
    there's the "Horatio," for instance. There are five or six
    shareholders in it, and I know I could buy half of their interests
    at, say $20 per foot, now that flour is worth $50 per barrel and
    they are pressed for money, but I am hard up myself, and can't buy
    --and in June they'll strike the ledge, and then "good-by canary."
    I can't get it for love or money. Twenty dollars a foot! Think of
    it! For ground that is proven to be rich. Twenty dollars, Madam-
    and we wouldn't part with a foot of our 75 for five times the sum.
    So it will be in Humboldt next summer. The boys will get pushed and
    sell ground for a song that is worth a fortune. But I am at the
    helm now. I have convinced Orion that he hasn't business talent
    enough to carry on a peanut-stand, and he has solemnly promised me
    that he will meddle no more with mining or other matters not
    connected with the secretary's office. So, you see, if mines are to
    be bought or sold, or tunnels run or shafts sunk, parties have to
    come to me--and me only. I'm the "firm," you know.

There are pages of this, all glowing with golden expectations and plans.
Ah, well! we have all written such letters home at one time and
another-of gold-mines of one form or another.

He closes at last with a bit of pleasantry for his mother.

    Ma says: "It looks like a man can't hold public office and be
    honest." Why, certainly not, Madam. A man can't hold public office
    and be honest. Lord bless you, it is a common practice with Orion
    to go about town stealing little things that happen to be lying
    around loose. And I don't remember having heard him speak the truth
    since we have been in Nevada. He even tries to prevail upon me to
    do these things, Ma, but I wasn't brought up in that way, you know.
    You showed the public what you could do in that line when you raised
    me, Madam. But then you ought to have raised me first, so that
    Orion could have had the benefit of my example. Do you know that he
    stole all the stamps out of an 8-stamp quartz-mill one night, and
    brought them home under his overcoat and hid them in the back room?




XXXV

THE MINER

He had about exhausted his own funds by this time, and it was necessary
that Orion should become the financier. The brothers owned their
Esmeralda claims in partnership, and it was agreed that Orion, out of his
modest depleted pay, should furnish the means, while the other would go
actively into the field and develop their riches. Neither had the
slightest doubt but that they would be millionaires presently, and both
were willing to struggle and starve for the few intervening weeks.

It was February when the printer-pilot-miner arrived in Aurora, that
rough, turbulent camp of the Esmeralda district lying about one hundred
miles south of Carson City, on the edge of California, in the Sierra
slopes. Everything was frozen and covered with snow; but there was no
lack of excitement and prospecting and grabbing for "feet" in this ledge
and that, buried deep under the ice and drift. The new arrival camped
with Horatio Phillips (Raish), in a tiny cabin with a domestic roof (the
ruin of it still stands), and they cooked and bunked together and
combined their resources in a common fund. Bob Howland joined them
presently, and later an experienced miner, Calvin H. Higbie (Cal), one
day to be immortalized in the story of 'Roughing It' and in the
dedication of that book. Around the cabin stove they would gather, and
paw over their specimens, or test them with blow-pipe and "horn" spoon,
after which they would plan tunnels and figure estimates of prospective
wealth. Never mind if the food was poor and scanty, and the chill wind
came in everywhere, and the roof leaked like a filter; they were living
in a land where all the mountains were banked with nuggets, where all the
rivers ran gold. Bob Howland declared later that they used to go out at
night and gather up empty champagne-bottles and fruit-tins and pile them
in the rear of their cabin to convey to others the appearance of
affluence and high living. When they lacked for other employment and
were likely to be discouraged, the ex-pilot would "ride the bunk" and
smoke and, without money and without price, distribute riches more
valuable than any they would ever dig out of those Esmeralda Hills. At
other times he talked little or not at all, but sat in one corner and
wrote, wholly oblivious of his surroundings. They thought he was writing
letters, though letters were not many and only to Orion during this
period. It was the old literary impulse stirring again, the desire to
set things down for their own sake, the natural hunger for print. One or
two of his earlier letters home had found their way into a Keokuk paper
--the 'Gate City'. Copies containing them had gone back to Orion, who
had shown them to a representative of the Territorial Enterprise, a young
man named Barstow, who thought them amusing. The Enterprise reprinted at
least one of these letters, or portions of it, and with this
encouragement the author of it sent an occasional contribution direct to
that paper over the pen-name "Josh." He did not care to sign his own
name. He was a miner who was soon to be a magnate; he had no desire to
be known as a camp scribbler.

He received no pay for these offerings, and expected none. They were
sketches of a broadly burlesque sort, the robust horse-play kind of humor
that belongs to the frontier. They were not especially promising
efforts. One of them was about an old rackabones of a horse, a sort of
preliminary study for "Oahu," of the Sandwich Islands, or "Baalbec" and
"Jericho," of Syria. If any one had told him, or had told any reader of
this sketch, that the author of it was knocking at the door of the house
of fame such a person's judgment or sincerity would have been open to
doubt. Nevertheless, it was true, though the knock was timid and halting
and the summons to cross the threshold long delayed.

A winter mining-camp is the most bleak and comfortless of places. The
saloon and gambling-house furnished the only real warmth and cheer. Our
Aurora miners would have been less than human, or more, if they had not
found diversion now and then in the happy harbors of sin. Once there was
a great ball given at a newly opened pavilion, and Sam Clemens is said to
have distinguished himself by his unrestrained and spontaneous enjoyment
of the tripping harmony. Cal Higbie, who was present, writes:

    In changing partners, whenever he saw a hand raised he would grasp
    it with great pleasure and sail off into another set, oblivious to
    his surroundings. Sometimes he would act as though there was no use
    in trying to go right or to dance like other people, and with his
    eyes closed he would do a hoe-down or a double-shuffle all alone,
    talking to himself and saying that he never dreamed there was so
    much pleasure to be obtained at a ball. It was all as natural as a
    child's play. By the second set, all the ladies were falling over
    themselves to get him for a partner, and most of the crowd, too full
    of mirth to dance, were standing or sitting around, dying with
    laughter.

What a child he always was--always, to the very end? With the first
break of winter the excitement that had been fermenting and stewing
around camp stoves overflowed into the streets, washed up the gullies,
and assailed the hills. There came then a period of madness, beside
which the Humboldt excitement had been mere intoxication. Higbie says:

    It was amazing how wild the people became all over the Pacific
    coast. In San Francisco and other large cities barbers, hack-
    drivers, servant-girls, merchants, and nearly every class of people
    would club together and send agents representing all the way from
    $5,000 to $500,000 or more to buy mines. They would buy anything.
    in the shape of quartz, whether it contained any mineral value or
    not.

The letters which went from the Aurora miner to Orion are humanly
documentary. They are likely to be staccato in their movement; they show
nervous haste in their composition, eagerness, and suppressed excitement;
they are not always coherent; they are seldom humorous, except in a
savage way; they are often profane; they are likely to be violent. Even
the handwriting has a terse look; the flourish of youth has gone out of
it. Altogether they reveal the tense anxiety of the gambling mania of
which mining is the ultimate form. An extract from a letter of April is
a fair exhibit:

    Work not yet begun on the "Horatio and Derby"--haven't seen it yet.
    It is still in the snow. Shall begin on it within 3 or 4 weeks
    --strike the ledge in July: Guess it is good--worth from $30 to $50
    a foot in California....

    Man named Gebhart shot here yesterday while trying to defend a claim
    on Last Chance Hill. Expect he will die.

    These mills here are not worth a d--n--except Clayton's--and it is
    not in full working trim yet.

    Send me $40 or $50--by mail-immediately. I go to work to-morrow
    with pick and shovel. Something's got to come, by G--, before I let
    go here.

By the end of April work had become active in the mines, though the snow
in places was still deep and the ground stony with frost. On the 28th he
writes:

    I have been at work all day blasting and digging, and d--ning one of
    our new claims--"Dashaway"--which I don't think a great deal of, but
    which I am willing to try. We are down, now, 10 or 12 a feet. We
    are following down under the ledge, but not taking it out. If we
    get up a windlass to-morrow we shall take out the ledge, and see
    whether it is worth anything or not.

It must have been hard work picking away at the flinty ledges in the
cold; and the "Dashaway" would seem to have proven a disappointment, for
there is no promising mention of it again. Instead, we hear of the
"Flyaway;" and "Annipolitan" and the "Live Yankee" and of a dozen others,
each of which holds out the beacon of hope for a little while and then
passes from notice forever. In May it is the "Monitor" that is sure to
bring affluence, though realization is no longer regarded as immediate.

    To use a French expression, I have "got my d---d satisfy" at last.
    Two years' time will make us capitalists, in spite of anything.

    Therefore we need fret and fume and worry and doubt no more, but
    just lie still and put up with privation for six months. Perhaps 3
    months will "let us out." Then, if government refuses to pay the
    rent on your new office we can do it ourselves. We have got to wait
    six weeks, anyhow, for a dividend--maybe longer--but that it will
    come there is no shadow of a doubt. I have got the thing sifted
    down to a dead moral certainty. I own one-eighth of the new
    "Monitor Ledge, Clemens Company," and money can't buy a foot of it;
    because I know it to contain our fortune. The ledge is six feet
    wide, and one needs no glass to see gold and silver in it....

    When you and I came out here we did not expect '63 or '64 to find us
    rich men--and if that proposition had been made we would have
    accepted it gladly. Now, it is made. I am willing, now, that
    "Neary's tunnel" or anybody else's tunnel shall succeed. Some of
    them may beat us a few months, but we shall be on hand in the
    fullness of time, as sure as fate. I would hate to swap chances
    with any member of the tribe . . . .

It is the same man who twenty-five years later would fasten his faith and
capital to a type-setting machine and refuse to exchange stock in it,
share for share, with the Mergenthaler linotype. He adds:

    But I have struck my tent in Esmeralda, and I care for no mines but
    those which I can superintend myself. I am a citizen here now, and
    I am satisfied, although Ratio and I are "strapped" and we haven't
    three days' rations in the house.... I shall work the "Monitor" and
    the other claims with my own hands. I prospected 3/4 of a pound of
    "Monitor" yesterday, and Raish reduced it with the blow-pipe, and
    got about 10 or 12 cents in gold and silver, besides the other half
    of it which we spilt on the floor and didn't get....

    I tried to break a handsome chunk from a huge piece of my darling
    "Monitor" which we brought from the croppings yesterday, but it all
    splintered up, and I send you the scraps. I call that "choice"--any
    d---d fool would.

    Don't ask if it has been assayed, for it hasn't. It don't need it.
    It is simply able to speak for itself. It is six feet wide on top,
    and traversed through with veins whose color proclaims their worth.

    What the devil does a man want with any more feet when he owns in
    the invincible bomb-proof "Monitor"?

There is much more of this, and other such letters, most of them ending
with demands for money. The living, the tools, the blasting-powder, and
the help eat it up faster than Orion's salary can grow.

"Send me $50 or $100, all you can spare; put away $150 subject to my
call--we shall need it soon for the tunnel." The letters are full of
such admonition, and Orion, more insane, if anything, than his brother,
is scraping his dollars and pennies together to keep the mines going. He
is constantly warned to buy no claims on his own account and promises
faithfully, but cannot resist now and then when luring baits are laid
before him, though such ventures invariably result in violent and profane
protests from Aurora.

"The pick and shovel are the only claims I have any confidence in now,"
the miner concludes, after one fierce outburst. "My back is sore, and my
hands are blistered with handling them to-day."

But even the pick and shovel did not inspire confidence a little later.
He writes that the work goes slowly, very slowly, but that they still
hope to strike it some day. "But--if we strike it rich--I've lost my
guess, that's all." Then he adds: "Couldn't go on the hill to-day. It
snowed. It always snows here, I expect"; and the final heart-sick line,
"Don't you suppose they have pretty much quit writing at home?"

This is midsummer, and snow still interferes with the work. One feels
the dreary uselessness of the quest.

Yet resolution did not wholly die, or even enthusiasm. These things were
as recurrent as new prospects, which were plentiful enough. In a still
subsequent letter he declares that he will never look upon his mother's
face again, or his sister's, or get married, or revisit the "Banner
State," until he is a rich man, though there is less assurance than
desperation in the words.

In 'Roughing It' the author tells us that, when flour had reached one
dollar a pound and he could no longer get the dollar, he abandoned mining
and went to milling "as a common laborer in a quartz-mill at ten dollars
a week." This statement requires modification. It was not entirely for
the money that he undertook the laborious task of washing "riffles" and
"screening tailings." The money was welcome enough, no doubt, but the
greater purpose was to learn refining, so that when his mines developed
he could establish his own mill and personally superintend the work. It
is like him to wish us to believe that he was obliged to give up being a
mining magnate to become a laborer in a quartz-mill, for there is a grim
humor in the confession. That he abandoned the milling experiment at the
end of a week is a true statement. He got a violent cold in the damp
place, and came near getting salivated, he says in a letter, "working in
the quicksilver and chemicals. I hardly think I shall try the experiment
again. It is a confining business, and I will not be confined for love
or money."

As recreation after this trying experience, Higbie took him on a tour,
prospecting for the traditional "Cement Mine," a lost claim where, in a
deposit of cement rock, gold nuggets were said to be as thick as raisins
in a fruitcake. They did not find the mine, but they visited Mono Lake
--that ghastly, lifeless alkali sea among the hills, which in 'Roughing
It' he has so vividly pictured. It was good to get away from the stress
of things; and they repeated the experiment. They made a walking trip to
Yosemite, carrying their packs, camping and fishing in that far,
tremendous isolation, which in those days few human beings had ever
visited at all. Such trips furnished a delicious respite from the
fevered struggle around tunnel and shaft. Amid mountain-peaks and giant
forests and by tumbling falls the quest for gold hardly seemed worth
while. More than once that summer he went alone into the wilderness to
find his balance and to get away entirely from humankind.




XXXVI

LAST MINING DAYS

It was late in July when he wrote:

    If I do not forget it, I will send you, per next mail, a pinch of
    decom. (decomposed rock) which I pinched with thumb and finger from
    Wide West ledge a while ago. Raish and I have secured 200 out of a
    company with 400 ft. in it, which perhaps (the ledge, I mean) is a
    spur from the W. W.--our shaft is about 100 ft. from the W. W.
    shaft. In order to get in, we agreed to sink 30 ft. We have sublet
    to another man for 50 ft., and we pay for powder and sharpening
    tools.

This was the "Blind Lead" claim of Roughing It, but the episode as set
down in that book is somewhat dramatized. It is quite true that he
visited and nursed Captain Nye while Higbie was off following the
"Cement" 'ignus fatuus' and that the "Wide West" holdings were forfeited
through neglect. But if the loss was regarded as a heavy one, the
letters fail to show it. It is a matter of dispute to-day whether or not
the claim was ever of any value. A well-known California author--[Ella
Sterling Cummins, author of The Story of the Files, etc]--declares:

    No one need to fear that he ran any chance of being a millionaire
    through the "Wide West" mine, for the writer, as a child, played
    over that historic spot and saw only a shut-down mill and desolate
    hole in the ground to mark the spot where over-hopeful men had sunk
    thousands and thousands, that they never recovered.

The "Blind Lead" episode, as related, is presumably a tale of what might
have happened--a possibility rather than an actuality. It is vividly
true in atmosphere, however, and forms a strong and natural climax for
closing the mining episode, while the literary privilege warrants any
liberties he may have taken for art's sake.

In reality the close of his mining career was not sudden and spectacular;
it was a lingering close, a reluctant and gradual surrender. The "Josh"
letters to the Enterprise had awakened at least a measure of interest,
and Orion had not failed to identify their author when any promising
occasion offered; as a result certain tentative overtures had been made
for similar material. Orion eagerly communicated such chances, for the
money situation was becoming a desperate one. A letter from the Aurora
miner written near the end of July presents the situation very fully. An
extract or two will be sufficient:

    My debts are greater than I thought for--I bought $25 worth of
    clothing and sent $25 to Higbie, in the cement diggings. I owe
    about $45 or $50, and have got about $45 in my pocket. But how in
    the h--l I am going to live on something over $100 until October or
    November is singular. The fact is, I must have something to do, and
    that shortly, too.... Now write to the Sacramento Union folks, or
    to Marsh, and tell them I'll write as many letters a week as they
    want for $10 a week. My board must be paid. Tell them I have
    corresponded with the N. Orleans Crescent and other papers--and the
    Enterprise.

    If they want letters from here--who'll run from morning till night
    collecting material cheaper? I'll write a short letter twice a
    week, for the present for the 'Age', for $5 per week. Now it has
    been a long time since I couldn't make my own living, and it shall
    be a long time before I loaf another year.

Nothing came of these possibilities, but about this time Barstow, of the
Enterprise, conferred with Joseph T. Goodman, editor and owner of the
paper, as to the advisability of adding the author of the "Josh" letters
to their local staff. Joe Goodman, who had as keen a literary perception
as any man that ever pitched a journalistic tent on the Pacific coast
(and there could be no higher praise than that), looked over the letters
and agreed with Barstow that the man who wrote them had "something in
him." Two of the sketches in particular he thought promising. One of
them was a burlesque report of an egotistical lecturer who was referred
to as "Professor Personal Pronoun." It closed by stating that it was
"impossible to print his lecture in full, as the type-cases had run out
of capital I's." But it was the other sketch which settled Goodman's
decision. It was also a burlesque report, this time of a Fourth-of-July
oration. It opened, "I was sired by the Great American Eagle and foaled
by a continental dam." This was followed by a string of stock patriotic
phrases absurdly arranged. But it was the opening itself that won
Goodman's heart.

"That is the sort of thing we want," he said. "Write to him, Barstow,
and ask him if he wants to come up here."

Barstow wrote, offering twenty-five dollars a week, a tempting sum. This
was at the end of July, 1862.

In 'Roughing It' we are led to believe that the author regarded this as a
gift from heaven and accepted it straightaway. As a matter of fact, he
fasted and prayed a good while over the "call." To Orion he wrote
Barstow has offered me the post as local reporter for the Enterprise at
$25 a week, and I have written him that I will let him know next mail, if
possible.

There was no desperate eagerness, you see, to break into literature, even
under those urgent conditions. It meant the surrender of all hope in the
mines, the confession of another failure. On August 7th he wrote again
to Orion. He had written to Barstow, he said, asking when they thought
he might be needed. He was playing for time to consider.

Now, I shall leave at midnight to-night, alone and on foot, for a walk of
60 or 70 miles through a totally uninhabited country, and it is barely
possible that mail facilities may prove infernally "slow." But do you
write Barstow that I have left here for a week or so, and in case he
should want me, he must write me here, or let me know through you.

So he had gone into the wilderness to fight out his battle alone. But
eight days later, when he had returned, there was still no decision. In
a letter to Pamela of this date he refers playfully to the discomforts of
his cabin and mentions a hope that he will spend the winter in San
Francisco; but there is no reference in it to any newspaper prospects
--nor to the mines, for that matter. Phillips, Howland, and Higbie would
seem to have given up by this time, and he was camping with Dan Twing and
a dog, a combination amusingly described. It is a pleasant enough
letter, but the note of discouragement creeps in:

    I did think for a while of going home this fall--but when I found
    that that was, and had been, the cherished intention and the darling
    aspiration every year of these old care-worn Californians for twelve
    weary years, I felt a little uncomfortable, so I stole a march on
    Disappointment and said I would not go home this fall. This country
    suits me, and it shall suit me whether or no.

He was dying hard, desperately hard; how could he know, to paraphrase the
old form of Christian comfort, that his end as a miner would mean, in
another sphere, "a brighter resurrection" than even his rainbow
imagination could paint?




XXXVII

THE NEW ESTATE

It was the afternoon of a hot, dusty August day when a worn,
travel-stained pilgrim drifted laggingly into the office of the Virginia
City Enterprise, then in its new building on C Street, and, loosening a
heavy roll of blankets from his shoulders, dropped wearily into a chair.
He wore a rusty slouch hat, no coat, a faded blue flannel shirt, a Navy
revolver; his trousers were hanging on his boot tops. A tangle of
reddish-brown hair fell on his shoulders, and a mass of tawny beard,
dingy with alkali dust, dropped half-way to his waist.

Aurora lay one hundred and thirty miles from Virginia. He had walked
that distance, carrying his heavy load. Editor Goodman was absent at the
moment, but the other proprietor, Denis E. McCarthy, signified that the
caller might state his errand. The wanderer regarded him with a far-away
look and said, absently and with deliberation:

"My starboard leg seems to be unshipped. I'd like about one hundred
yards of line; I think I am falling to pieces." Then he added: "I want
to see Mr. Barstow, or Mr. Goodman. My name is Clemens, and I've come to
write for the paper."

It was the master of the world's widest estate come to claim his kingdom:

William Wright, who had won a wide celebrity on the Coast as Dan de
Quille, was in the editorial chair and took charge of the new arrival. He
was going on a trip to the States soon; it was mainly on this account
that the new man had been engaged. The "Josh" letters were very good, in
Dan's opinion; he gave their author a cordial welcome, and took him
around to his boarding-place. It was the beginning of an association
that continued during Samuel Clemens's stay in Virginia City and of a
friendship that lasted many years.

The Territorial Enterprise was one of the most remarkable frontier papers
ever published. Its editor-in-chief, Joseph Goodman, was a man with rare
appreciation, wide human understanding, and a comprehensive newspaper
policy. Being a young man, he had no policy, in fact, beyond the general
purpose that his paper should be a forum for absolutely free speech,
provided any serious statement it contained was based upon knowledge. His
instructions to the new reporter were about as follows:

"Never say we learn so and so, or it is rumored, or we understand so and
so; but go to headquarters and get the absolute facts; then speak out and
say it is so and so. In the one case you are likely to be shot, and in
the other you are pretty certain to be; but you will preserve the public
confidence."

Goodman was not new to the West. He had come to California as a boy and
had been a miner, explorer, printer, and contributor by turns. Early in
'61, when the Comstock Lode--[Named for its discoverer, Henry T. P.
Comstock, a half-crazy miner, who realized very little from his
stupendous find.]--was new and Virginia in the first flush of its monster
boom, he and Denis McCarthy had scraped together a few dollars and bought
the paper. It had been a hand-to-hand struggle for a while, but in a
brief two years, from a starving sheet in a shanty the Enterprise, with
new building, new presses, and a corps of swift compositors brought up
from San Francisco, had become altogether metropolitan, as well as the
most widely considered paper on the Coast. It had been borne upward by
the Comstock tide, though its fearless, picturesque utterance would have
given it distinction anywhere. Goodman himself was a fine, forceful
writer, and Dan de Quille and R. M. Daggett (afterward United States
minister to Hawaii) were representative of Enterprise men.--[The Comstock
of that day became famous for its journalism. Associated with the
Virginia papers then or soon afterward were such men as Tom Fitch (the
silver-tongued orator), Alf Doten, W. J. Forbes, C. C. Goodwin, H. R.
Mighels, Clement T. Rice, Arthur McEwen, and Sam Davis--a great array
indeed for a new Territory.]--Samuel Clemens fitted precisely into this
group. He added the fresh, rugged vigor of thought and expression that
was the very essence of the Comstock, which was like every other frontier
mining-camp, only on a more lavish, more overwhelming scale.

There was no uncertainty about the Comstock; the silver and gold were
there. Flanking the foot of Mount Davidson, the towns of Gold Hill and
Virginia and the long street between were fairly underburrowed and
underpinned by the gigantic mining construction of that opulent lode
whose treasures were actually glutting the mineral markets of the world.
The streets overhead seethed and swarmed with miners, mine owners, and
adventurers--riotous, rollicking children of fortune, always ready to
drink and make merry, as eager in their pursuit of pleasure as of gold.
Comstockers would always laugh at a joke; the rougher the better. The
town of Virginia itself was just a huge joke to most of them. Everybody
had, money; everybody wanted to laugh and have a good time. The
Enterprise, "Comstock to the backbone," did what it could to help things
along.

It was a sort of free ring, with every one for himself. Goodman let the
boys write and print in accordance with their own ideas and upon any
subject. Often they wrote of each other--squibs and burlesques, which
gratified the Comstock far more than mere news.--[The indifference to
'news' was noble--none the less so because it was so blissfully
unconscious. Editors Mark or Dan would dismiss a murder with a couple of
inches and sit down and fill up a column with a fancy sketch: "Arthur
McEwen"]--It was the proper class-room for Mark Twain, an encouraging
audience and free utterance: fortune could have devised nothing better
for him than that.

He was peculiarly fitted for the position. Unspoiled humanity appealed
to him, and the Comstock presented human nature in its earliest landscape
forms. Furthermore, the Comstock was essentially optimistic--so was he;
any hole in the ground to him held a possible, even a probable, fortune.

His pilot memory became a valuable asset in news-gathering. Remembering
marks, banks, sounding, and other river detail belonged apparently in the
same category of attainments as remembering items and localities of news.
He could travel all day without a note-book and at night reproduce the
day's budget or at least the picturesqueness of it, without error. He
was presently accounted a good reporter, except where statistics
--measurements and figures--were concerned. These he gave "a lick and a
promise," according to De Quille, who wrote afterward of their
associations. De Quille says further:

    Mark and I agreed well in our work, which we divided when there was
    a rush of events; but we often cruised in company, he taking the
    items of news he could handle best, and I such as I felt competent
    to work up. However, we wrote at the same table and frequently
    helped each other with such suggestions as occurred to us during the
    brief consultations we held in regard to the handling of any matters
    of importance. Never was there an angry word between us in all the
    time we worked together.

De Quille tells how Clemens clipped items with a knife when there were no
scissors handy, and slashed through on the top of his desk, which in time
took on the semblance "of a huge polar star, spiritedly dashing forth a
thousand rays."

The author of 'Roughing It' has given us a better picture of the Virginia
City of those days and his work there than any one else will ever write.
He has made us feel the general spirit of affluence that prevailed; how
the problem was not to get money, but to spend it; how "feet" in any one
of a hundred mines could be had for the asking; how such shares were
offered like apples or cigars or bonbons, as a natural matter of courtesy
when one happened to have his supply in view; how any one connected with
a newspaper would have stocks thrust upon him, and how in a brief time he
had acquired a trunk ful of such riches and usually had something to sell
when any of the claims made a stir on the market. He has told us of the
desperadoes and their trifling regard for human life, and preserved other
elemental characters of these prodigal days. The funeral of Buck Fanshaw
that amazing masterpiece--is a complete epitome of the social frontier.

It would not be the part of wisdom to attempt another inclusive
presentation of Comstock conditions. We may only hope to add a few
details of history, justified now by time and circumstances, to
supplement the picture with certain data of personality preserved from
the drift of years.




XXXVIII

ONE OF THE "STAFF"

The new reporter found acquaintance easy. The office force was like one
family among which there was no line of caste. Proprietors, editors, and
printers were social equals; there was little ceremony among them--none
at all outside of the office.--["The paper went to press at two in the
morning, then all the staff and all the compositors gathered themselves
together in the composing-room and drank beer and sang the popular
war-songs of the day until dawn."--S. L. C., in 1908.]--Samuel Clemens
immediately became "Sam," or "Josh," to his associates, just as De Quille
was "Dan" and Goodman "Joe." He found that he disliked the name of Josh,
and, as he did not sign it again, it was presently dropped. The office,
and Virginia City generally, quickly grew fond of him, delighting in his
originality and measured speech. Enterprise readers began to identify
his work, then unsigned, and to enjoy its fresh phrasing, even when it
was only the usual local item or mining notice. True to its name and
reputation, the paper had added a new attraction.

It was only a brief time after his arrival in Virginia City that Clemens
began the series of hoaxes which would carry his reputation, not always
in an enviable fashion, across the Sierras and down the Pacific coast.
With one exception these are lost to-day, for so far as known there is
not a single file of the Enterprise in existence. Only a few stray
copies and clippings are preserved, but we know the story of some of
these literary pranks and of their results. They were usually intended
as a special punishment of some particular individual or paper or
locality; but victims were gathered by the wholesale in their seductive
web. Mark Twain himself, in his book of Sketches, has set down something
concerning the first of these, "The Petrified Man," and of another, "My
Bloody Massacre," but in neither case has he told it all. "The Petrified
Man" hoax was directed at an official named Sewall, a coroner and justice
of the peace at Humboldt, who had been pompously indifferent in the
matter of supplying news. The story, told with great circumstance and
apparent care as to detail, related the finding of a petrified
prehistoric man, partially imbedded in a rock, in a cave in the desert
more than one hundred miles from Humboldt, and how Sewall had made the
perilous five-day journey in the alkali waste to hold an inquest over a
man that had been dead three hundred years; also how, "with that delicacy
so characteristic of him," Sewall had forbidden the miners from blasting
him from his position. The account further stated that the hands of the
deceased were arranged in a peculiar fashion; and the description of the
arrangement was so skilfully woven in with other matters that at first,
or even second, reading one might not see that the position indicated was
the ancient one which begins with the thumb at the nose and in many ages
has been used impolitely to express ridicule and the word "sold." But
the description was a shade too ingenious. The author expected that the
exchanges would see the jolt and perhaps assist in the fun he would have
with Sewall. He did not contemplate a joke on the papers themselves. As
a matter of fact, no one saw the "sell" and most of the papers printed
his story of the petrified man as a genuine discovery. This was a
surprise, and a momentary disappointment; then he realized that he had
builded better than he knew. He gathered up a bundle of the exchanges
and sent them to Sewall; also he sent marked copies to scientific men in
various parts of the United States. The papers had taken it seriously;
perhaps the scientists would. Some of them did, and Sewall's days became
unhappy because of letters received asking further information. As
literature, the effort did not rank high, and as a trick on an obscure
official it was hardly worth while; but, as a joke on the Coast exchanges
and press generally, it was greatly regarded and its author, though as
yet unnamed, acquired prestige.

Inquiries began to be made as to who was the smart chap in Virginia that
did these things. The papers became wary and read Enterprise items twice
before clipping them. Clemens turned his attention to other matters to
lull suspicion. The great "Dutch Nick Massacre" did not follow until a
year later.

Reference has already been made to the Comstock's delight in humor of a
positive sort. The practical joke was legal tender in Virginia. One
might protest and swear, but he must take it. An example of Comstock
humor, regarded as the finest assay, is an incident still told of Leslie
Blackburn and Pat Holland, two gay men about town. They were coming down
C Street one morning when they saw some fine watermelons on a fruit-stand
at the International Hotel corner. Watermelons were rare and costly in
that day and locality, and these were worth three dollars apiece.
Blackburn said:

"Pat, let's get one of those watermelons. You engage that fellow in
conversation while I stand at the corner, where I can step around out of
sight easily. When you have got him interested, point to something on
the back shelf and pitch me a melon."

This appealed to Holland, and he carried out his part of the plan
perfectly; but when he pitched the watermelon Blackburn simply put his
hands in his pockets, and stepped around the corner, leaving the melon a
fearful disaster on the pavement. It was almost impossible for Pat to
explain to the fruit-man why he pitched away a three-dollar melon like
that even after paying for it, and it was still more trying, also more
expensive, to explain to the boys facing the various bars along C Street.

Sam Clemens, himself a practical joker in his youth, found a healthy
delight in this knock-down humor of the Comstock. It appealed to his
vigorous, elemental nature. He seldom indulged physically in such
things; but his printed squibs and hoaxes and his keen love of the
ridiculous placed him in the joker class, while his prompt temper, droll
manner, and rare gift of invective made him an enticing victim.

Among the Enterprise compositors was one by the name of Stephen E. Gillis
(Steve, of course--one of the "fighting Gillises"), a small, fearless
young fellow, handsome, quick of wit, with eyes like needle-points.

"Steve weighed only ninety-five pounds," Mark Twain once wrote of him,
"but it was well known throughout the Territory that with his fists he
could whip anybody that walked on two legs, let his weight and science be
what they might."

Clemens was fond of Steve Gillis from the first. The two became closely
associated in time, and were always bosom friends; but Steve was a
merciless joker, and never as long as they were together could he "resist
the temptation of making Sam swear," claiming that his profanity was
grander than any music.

A word hereabout Mark Twain's profanity. Born with a matchless gift of
phrase, the printing-office, the river, and the mines had developed it in
a rare perfection. To hear him denounce a thing was to give one the
fierce, searching delight of galvanic waves. Every characterization
seemed the most perfect fit possible until he applied the next. And
somehow his profanity was seldom an offense. It was not mere idle
swearing; it seemed always genuine and serious. His selection of epithet
was always dignified and stately, from whatever source--and it might be
from the Bible or the gutter. Some one has defined dirt as misplaced
matter. It is perhaps the greatest definition ever uttered. It is
absolutely universal in its application, and it recurs now, remembering
Mark Twain's profanity. For it was rarely misplaced; hence it did not
often offend. It seemed, in fact, the safety-valve of his high-pressure
intellectual engine. When he had blown off he was always calm, gentle;
forgiving, and even tender. Once following an outburst he said,
placidly:

"In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate
circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer."

It seems proper to add that it is not the purpose of this work to magnify
or modify or excuse that extreme example of humankind which forms its
chief subject; but to set him down as he was inadequately, of course, but
with good conscience and clear intent.

Led by Steve Gillis, the Enterprise force used to devise tricks to set
him going. One of these was to hide articles from his desk. He detested
the work necessary to the care of a lamp, and wrote by the light of a
candle. To hide "Sam's candle" was a sure way to get prompt and vigorous
return. He would look for it a little; then he would begin a slow,
circular walk--a habit acquired in the limitations of the pilot-house
--and his denunciation of the thieves was like a great orchestration of
wrong. By and by the office boy, supposedly innocent, would find another
for him, and all would be forgotten. He made a placard, labeled with
fearful threats and anathemas, warning any one against touching his
candle; but one night both the placard and the candle were gone.

Now, amoung his Virginia acquaintances was a young minister, a Mr.
Rising, "the fragile, gentle new fledgling" of the Buck Fanshaw episode.
Clemens greatly admired Mr. Rising's evident sincerity, and the young
minister had quickly recognized the new reporter's superiority of mind.
Now and then he came to the office to call on him. Unfortunately, he
happened to step in just at that moment when, infuriated by the latest
theft of his property, Samuel Clemens was engaged in his rotary
denunciation of the criminals, oblivious of every other circumstance. Mr.
Rising stood spellbound by this, to him, new phase of genius, and at last
his friend became dimly aware of him. He did not halt in his scathing
treadmill and continued in the slow monotone of speech:

"I know, Mr. Rising, I know it's wicked to talk like this; I know it is
wrong. I know I shall certainly go to hell for it. But if you had a
candle, Mr. Rising, and those thieves should carry it off every night, I
know that you would say, just as I say, Mr. Rising, G-d d--n their
impenitent souls, may they roast in hell for a million years."

The little clergyman caught his breath.

"Maybe I should, Mr. Clemens," he replied, "but I should try to say,
'Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.'"

"Oh, well! if you put it on the ground that they are just fools, that
alters the case, as I am one of that class myself. Come in and we'll try
to forgive them and forget about it."

Mark Twain had a good many experiences with young ministers. He was
always fond of them, and they often sought him out. Once, long
afterward, at a hotel, he wanted a boy to polish his shoes, and had rung
a number of times without getting any response. Presently, he thought he
heard somebody approaching in the hall outside. He flung open the door,
and a small, youngish-looking person, who seemed to have been hesitating
at the door, made a movement as though to depart hastily. Clemens
grabbed him by the collar.

"Look here," he said, "I've been waiting and ringing here for half an
hour. Now I want you to take those shoes, and polish them, quick. Do
you hear?"

The slim, youthful person trembled a good deal, and said: "I would, Mr.
Clemens, I would indeed, sir, if I could. But I'm a minister of the
Gospel, and I'm not prepared for such work."




XXXIX

PHILOSOPHY AND POETRY

There was a side to Samuel Clemens that in those days few of his
associates saw. This was the poetic, the philosophic, the contemplative
side. Joseph Goodman recognized this phase of his character, and, while
he perhaps did not regard it as a future literary asset, he delighted in
it, and in their hours of quiet association together encouraged its
exhibition. It is rather curious that with all his literary penetration
Goodman did not dream of a future celebrity for Clemens. He afterward
said:

"If I had been asked to prophesy which of the two men, Dan de Quille or
Sam, would become distinguished, I should have said De Quille. Dan was
talented, industrious, and, for that time and place, brilliant. Of
course, I recognized the unusualness of Sam's gifts, but he was eccentric
and seemed to lack industry; it is not likely that I should have
prophesied fame for him then."

Goodman, like MacFarlane in Cincinnati, half a dozen years before, though
by a different method, discovered and developed the deeper vein. Often
the two, dining together in a French restaurant, discussed life, subtler
philosophies, recalled various phases of human history, remembered and
recited the poems that gave them especial enjoyment. "The Burial of
Moses," with its noble phrasing and majestic imagery, appealed strongly
to Clemens, and he recited it with great power. The first stanza in
particular always stirred him, and it stirred his hearer as well. With
eyes half closed and chin lifted, a lighted cigar between his fingers, he
would lose himself in the music of the stately lines.

       By Nebo's lonely mountain,
       On this side Jordan's wave,
       In a vale in the land of Moab,
       There lies a lonely grave.

       And no man knows that sepulchre,
       And no man saw it e'er,
       For the angels of God, upturned the sod,
       And laid the dead man there.

Another stanza that he cared for almost as much was the one beginning:

       And had he not high honor
       --The hill-side for a pall,
       To lie in state while angels wait
       With stars for tapers tall,
       And the dark rock-pines, like tossing plumes,
       Over his bier to wave,
       And God's own hand in that lonely land,
       To lay him in the grave?

Without doubt he was moved to emulate the simple grandeur of that poem,
for he often repeated it in those days, and somewhat later we find it
copied into his notebook in full. It would seem to have become to him a
sort of literary touchstone; and in some measure it may be regarded as
accountable for the fact that in the fullness of time "he made use of the
purest English of any modern writer." These are Goodman's words, though
William Dean Howells has said them, also, in substance, and Brander
Matthews, and many others who know about such things. Goodman adds, "The
simplicity and beauty of his style are almost without a parallel, except
in the common version of the Bible," which is also true. One is reminded
of what Macaulay said of Milton:

"There would seem at first sight to be no more in his words than in other
words. But they are words of enchantment. No sooner are they pronounced
than the past is present and the distance near. New forms of beauty
start at once into existence, and all the burial-places of the memory
give up their dead."

One drifts ahead, remembering these things. The triumph of words, the
mastery of phrases, lay all before him at the time of which we are
writing now. He was twenty-seven. At that age Rudyard Kipling had
reached his meridian. Samuel Clemens was still in the classroom.
Everything came as a lesson-phrase, form, aspect, and combination;
nothing escaped unvalued. The poetic phase of things particularly
impressed him. Once at a dinner with Goodman, when the lamp-light from
the chandelier struck down through the claret on the tablecloth in a
great red stain, he pointed to it dramatically "Look, Joe," he said, "the
angry tint of wine."

It was at one of these private sessions, late in '62, that Clemens
proposed to report the coming meeting of the Carson legislature. He knew
nothing of such work and had small knowledge of parliamentary
proceedings. Formerly it had been done by a man named Gillespie, but
Gillespie was now clerk of the house. Goodman hesitated; then,
remembering that whether Clemens got the reports right or not, he would
at least make them readable, agreed to let him undertake the work.




XL

"MARK TWAIN"

The early Nevada legislature was an interesting assembly. All State
legislatures are that, and this was a mining frontier. No attempt can be
made to describe it. It was chiefly distinguished for a large ignorance
of procedure, a wide latitude of speech, a noble appreciation of humor,
and plenty of brains. How fortunate Mask Twain was in his schooling, to
be kept away from institutional training, to be placed in one after
another of those universities of life where the sole curriculum is the
study of the native inclinations and activities of mankind! Sometimes,
in after-years, he used to regret the lack of systematic training. Well
for him--and for us--that he escaped that blight.

For the study of human nature the Nevada assembly was a veritable
lecture-room. In it his understanding, his wit, his phrasing, his
self-assuredness grew like Jack's bean-stalk, which in time was ready to
break through into a land above the sky. He made some curious blunders
in his reports, in the beginning; but he was so frank in his ignorance
and in his confession of it that the very unsophistication of his early
letters became their chief charm. Gillespie coached him on parliamentary
matters, and in time the reports became technically as well as
artistically good. Clemens in return christened Gillespie "Young,
Jefferson's Manual," a title which he bore, rather proudly indeed, for
many years.

Another "entitlement" growing out of those early reports, and possibly
less satisfactory to its owner, was the one accorded to Clement T. Rice,
of the Virginia City Union. Rice knew the legislative work perfectly and
concluded to poke fun at the Enterprise letters.

But this was a mistake. Clemens in his next letter declared that Rice's
reports might be parliamentary enough, but that they covered with
glittering technicalities the most festering mass of misstatement, and
even crime. He avowed that they were wholly untrustworthy; dubbed the
author of them "The Unreliable," and in future letters never referred to
him by any other term. Carson and the Comstock and the papers of the
Coast delighted in this burlesque journalistic warfare, and Rice was "The
Unreliable" for life.

Rice and Clemens, it should be said, though rivals, were the best of
friends, and there was never any real animosity between them.

Clemens quickly became a favorite with the members; his sharp letters,
with their amusing turn of phrase and their sincerity, won general
friendship. Jack Simmons, speaker of the house, and Billy Clagget, the
Humboldt delegation, were his special cronies and kept him on the inside
of the political machine. Clagget had remained in Unionville after the
mining venture, warned his Keokuk sweetheart, and settled down into
politics and law. In due time he would become a leading light and go to
Congress. He was already a notable figure of forceful eloquence and
tousled, unkempt hair. Simmons, Clagget, and Clemens were easily the
three conspicuous figures of the session.

It must have been gratifying to the former prospector and miner to come
back to Carson City a person of consequence, where less than a year
before he had been regarded as no more than an amusing indolent fellow, a
figure to smile at, but unimportant. There is a photograph extant of
Clemens and his friends Clagget and Simmons in a group, and we gather
from it that he now arrayed himself in a long broadcloth cloak, a
starched shirt, and polished boots. Once more he had become the glass of
fashion that he had been on the river. He made his residence with Orion,
whose wife and little daughter Jennie had by this time come out from the
States. "Sister Mollie," as wife of the acting governor, was presently
social leader of the little capital; her brilliant brother-in-law its
chief ornament. His merriment and songs and good nature made him a
favorite guest. His lines had fallen in pleasant places; he could afford
to smile at the hard Esmeralda days.

He was not altogether satisfied. His letters, copied and quoted all
along the Coast, were unsigned. They were easily identified with one
another, but not with a personality. He realized that to build a
reputation it was necessary to fasten it to an individuality, a name.

He gave the matter a good deal of thought. He did not consider the use
of his own name; the 'nom de plume' was the fashion of the time. He
wanted something brief, crisp, definite, unforgettable. He tried over a
good many combinations in his mind, but none seemed convincing. Just
then--this was early in 1863--news came to him that the old pilot he had
wounded by his satire, Isaiah Sellers, was dead. At once the pen-name of
Captain Sellers recurred to him. That was it; that was the sort of name
he wanted. It was not trivial; it had all the qualities--Sellers would
never need it again. Clemens decided he would give it a new meaning and
new association in this far-away land. He went up to Virginia City.

"Joe," he said, to Goodman, "I want to sign my articles. I want to be
identified to a wider audience."

"All right, Sam. What name do you want to use 'Josh'?"

"No, I want to sign them 'Mark Twain.' It is an old river term, a
leads-man's call, signifying two fathoms--twelve feet. It has a richness
about it; it was always a pleasant sound for a pilot to hear on a dark
night; it meant safe water."

He did not then mention that Captain Isaiah Sellers had used and dropped
the name. He was ashamed of his part in that episode, and the offense
was still too recent for confession. Goodman considered a moment:

"Very well, Sam," he said, "that sounds like a good name."

It was indeed a good name. In all the nomenclature of the world no more
forceful combination of words could have been selected to express the man
for whom they stood. The name Mark Twain is as infinite, as fundamental
as that of John Smith, without the latter's wasting distribution of
strength. If all the prestige in the name of John Smith were combined in
a single individual, its dynamic energy might give it the carrying power
of Mark Twain. Let this be as it may, it has proven the greatest 'nom de
plume' ever chosen--a name exactly in accord with the man, his work, and
his career.

It is not surprising that Goodman did not recognize this at the moment.
We should not guess the force that lies in a twelve-inch shell if we had
never seen one before or heard of its seismic destruction. We should
have to wait and see it fired, and take account of the result.

It was first signed to a Carson letter bearing date of February 2, 1863,
and from that time was attached to all Samuel Clemens's work. The work
was neither better nor worse than before, but it had suddenly acquired
identification and special interest. Members of the legislature and
friends in Virginia and Carson immediately began to address him as
"Mark." The papers of the Coast took it up, and within a period to be
measured by weeks he was no longer "Sam" or "Clemens" or "that bright
chap on the Enterprise," but "Mark"--"Mark Twain." No 'nom de plume' was
ever so quickly and generally accepted as that. De Quille, returning
from the East after an absence of several months, found his room and
deskmate with the distinction of a new name and fame.

It is curious that in the letters to the home folks preserved from that
period there is no mention of his new title and its success. In fact,
the writer rarely speaks of his work at all, and is more inclined to tell
of the mining shares he has accumulated, their present and prospective
values. However, many of the letters are undoubtedly missing. Such as
have been preserved are rather airy epistles full of his abounding joy of
life and good nature. Also they bear evidence of the renewal of his old
river habit of sending money home--twenty dollars in each letter, with
intervals of a week or so between.




XLI

THE CREAM OF COMSTOCK HUMOR

With the adjournment of the legislature, Samuel Clemens returned to
Virginia City distinctly a notability--Mark Twain. He was regarded as
leading man on the Enterprise--which in itself was high distinction on
the Comstock--while his improved dress and increased prosperity commanded
additional respect. When visitors of note came along--well-known actors,
lecturers, politicians--he was introduced as one of the Comstock features
which it was proper to see, along with the Ophir and Gould and Curry
mines, and the new hundred-stamp quartz-mill.

He was rather grieved and hurt, therefore, when, after several
collections had been taken up in the Enterprise office to present various
members of the staff with meerschaum pipes, none had come to him. He
mentioned this apparent slight to Steve Gillis:

"Nobody ever gives me a meerschaum pipe," he said, plaintively. "Don't I
deserve one yet?"

Unhappy day! To that remorseless creature, Steve Gillis, this was a
golden opportunity for deviltry of a kind that delighted his soul. This
is the story, precisely as Gillis himself told it to the writer of these
annals more than a generation later:

"There was a German kept a cigar store in Virginia City and always had a
fine assortment of meerschaum pipes. These pipes usually cost anywhere
from forty to seventy-five dollars.

"One day Denis McCarthy and I were walking by the old German's place, and
stopped to look in at the display in the window. Among other things
there was one large imitation meerschaum with a high bowl and a long
stem, marked a dollar and a half.

"I decided that that would be just the pipe for Sam. We went in and
bought it, also a very much longer stem. I think the stem alone cost
three dollars. Then we had a little German-silver plate engraved with
Mark's name on it and by whom presented, and made preparations for the
presentation. Charlie Pope--[afterward proprietor of Pope's Theater, St.
Louis]--was playing at the Opera House at the time, and we engaged him to
make the presentation speech.

"Then we let in Dan de Quille, Mark's closest friend, to act the part of
Judas--to tell Mark privately that he, was going to be presented with a
fine pipe, so that he could have a speech prepared in reply to Pope's. It
was awful low-down in Dan. We arranged to have the affair come off in
the saloon beneath the Opera House after the play was over.

"Everything went off handsomely; but it was a pretty remorseful occasion,
and some of us had a hang-dog look; for Sam took it in such sincerity,
and had prepared one of the most beautiful speeches I ever heard him
make. Pope's presentation, too, was beautifully done. He told Sam how
his friends all loved him, and that this pipe, purchased at so great an
expense, was but a small token of their affection. But Sam's reply,
which was supposed to be impromptu, actually brought the tears to the
eyes of some of us, and he was interrupted every other minute with
applause. I never felt so sorry for anybody.

"Still, we were bent on seeing the thing through. After Sam's speech was
finished, he ordered expensive wines--champagne and sparkling Moselle.
Then we went out to do the town, and kept things going until morning to
drown our sorrow.

"Well, next day, of course, he started in to color the pipe. It wouldn't
color any more than a piece of chalk, which was about all it was. Sam
would smoke and smoke, and complain that it didn't seem to taste right,
and that it wouldn't color. Finally Denis said to him one day:

"'Oh, Sam, don't you know that's just a damned old egg-shell, and that
the boys bought it for a dollar and a half and presented you with it for
a joke?'

"Then Sam was furious, and we laid the whole thing on Dan de Quille. He
had a thunder-cloud on his face when he started up for the Local Room,
where Dan was. He went in and closed the door behind him, and locked it,
and put the key in his pocket--an awful sign. Dan was there alone,
writing at his table.

"Sam said, 'Dan, did you know, when you invited me to make that speech,
that those fellows were going to give me a bogus pipe?'

"There was no way for Dan to escape, and he confessed. Sam walked up and
down the floor, as if trying to decide which way to slay Dan. Finally he
said:

"'Oh, Dan, to think that you, my dearest friend, who knew how little
money I had, and how hard I would work to prepare a speech that would
show my gratitude to my friends, should be the traitor, the Judas, to
betray me with a kiss! Dan, I never want to look on your face again. You
knew I would spend every dollar I had on those pirates when I couldn't
afford to spend anything; and yet you let me do it; you aided and abetted
their diabolical plan, and you even got me to get up that damned speech
to make the thing still more ridiculous.'

"Of course Dan felt terribly, and tried to defend himself by saying that
they were really going to present him with a fine pipe--a genuine one,
this time. But Sam at first refused to be comforted; and when, a few
days later, I went in with the pipe and said, 'Sam, here's the pipe the
boys meant to give you all the time,' and tried to apologize, he looked
around a little coldly, and said:

"'Is that another of those bogus old pipes?'

"He accepted it, though, and general peace was restored. One day, soon
after, he said to me:

"'Steve, do you know that I think that that bogus pipe smokes about as
well as the good one?'"

Many years later (this was in his home at Hartford, and Joe Goodman was
present) Mark Twain one day came upon the old imitation pipe.

"Joe," he said, "that was a cruel, cruel trick the boys played on me;
but, for the feeling I had during the moment when they presented me with
that pipe and when Charlie Pope was making his speech and I was making my
reply to it--for the memory of that feeling, now, that pipe is more
precious to me than any pipe in the world!"

Eighteen hundred and sixty-three was flood-tide on the Comstock. Every
mine was working full blast. Every mill was roaring and crunching,
turning out streams of silver and gold. A little while ago an old
resident wrote:

    When I close my eyes I hear again the respirations of hoisting-
    engines and the roar of stamps; I can see the "camels" after
    midnight packing in salt; I can see again the jam of teams on C
    Street and hear the anathemas of the drivers--all the mighty work
    that went on in order to lure the treasures from the deep chambers
    of the great lode and to bring enlightenment to the desert.

Those were lively times. In the midst of one of his letters home Mark
Twain interrupts himself to say: "I have just heard five pistol-shots
down the street--as such things are in my line, I will go and see about
it," and in a postscript added a few hours later:

    5 A.M. The pistol-shot did its work well. One man, a Jackson
    County Missourian, shot two of my friends (police officers) through
    the heart--both died within three minutes. The murderer's name is
    John Campbell.

"Mark and I had our hands full," says De Quille, "and no grass grew under
our feet." In answer to some stray criticism of their policy, they
printed a sort of editorial manifesto:

    Our duty is to keep the universe thoroughly posted concerning
    murders and street fights, and balls, and theaters, and pack-trains,
    and churches, and lectures, and school-houses, and city military
    affairs, and highway robberies, and Bible societies, and hay-wagons,
    and the thousand other things which it is in the province of local
    reporters to keep track of and magnify into undue importance for the
    instruction of the readers of a great daily newspaper.

It is easy to recognize Mark Twain's hand in that compendium of labor,
which, in spite of its amusing apposition, was literally true, and so
intended, probably with no special thought of humor in its construction.
It may be said, as well here as anywhere, that it was not Mark Twain's
habit to strive for humor. He saw facts at curious angles and phrased
them accordingly. In Virginia City he mingled with the turmoil of the
Comstock and set down what he saw and thought, in his native speech. The
Comstock, ready to laugh, found delight in his expression and discovered
a vast humor in his most earnest statements.

On the other hand, there were times when the humor was intended and
missed its purpose. We have already recalled the instance of the
"Petrified Man" hoax, which was taken seriously; but the "Empire City
Massacre" burlesque found an acceptance that even its author considered
serious for a time. It is remembered to-day in Virginia City as the
chief incident of Mark Twain's Comstock career.

This literary bomb really had two objects, one of which was to punish the
San Francisco Bulletin for its persistent attacks on Washoe interests;
the other, though this was merely incidental, to direct an unpleasant
attention to a certain Carson saloon, the Magnolia, which was supposed to
dispense whisky of the "forty rod" brand--that is, a liquor warranted to
kill at that range. It was the Bulletin that was to be made especially.
ridiculous. This paper had been particularly disagreeable concerning the
"dividend-cooking" system of certain of the Comstock mines, at the same
time calling invidious attention to safer investments in California
stocks. Samuel Clemens, with "half a trunkful" of Comstock shares, had
cultivated a distaste for California things in general: In a letter of
that time he says:

"How I hate everything that looks or tastes or smells like California!"
With his customary fickleness of soul, he was glorifying California less
than a year later, but for the moment he could see no good in that
Nazareth. To his great satisfaction, one of the leading California
corporations, the Spring Valley Water Company, "cooked" a dividend of its
own about this time, resulting in disaster to a number of guileless
investors who were on the wrong side of the subsequent crash. This
afforded an inviting opportunity for reprisal. With Goodman's consent he
planned for the California papers, and the Bulletin in particular, a
punishment which he determined to make sufficiently severe. He believed
the papers of that State had forgotten his earlier offenses, and the
result would show he was not mistaken.

There was a point on the Carson River, four miles from Carson City, known
as "Dutch Nick's," and also as Empire City, the two being identical.
There was no forest there of any sort nothing but sage-brush. In the one
cabin there lived a bachelor with no household. Everybody in Virginia
and Carson, of course, knew these things.

Mark Twain now prepared a most lurid and graphic account of how one
Phillip Hopkins, living "just at the edge of the great pine forest which
lies between Empire City and 'Dutch Nick's'," had suddenly gone insane
and murderously assaulted his entire family consisting of his wife and
their nine children, ranging in ages from one to nineteen years. The
wife had been slain outright, also seven of the children; the other two
might recover. The murder had been committed in the most brutal and
ghastly fashion, after which Hopkins had scalped his wife, leaped on a
horse, cut his own throat from ear to ear, and ridden four miles into
Carson City, dropping dead at last in front of the Magnolia saloon, the
red-haired scalp of his wife still clutched in his gory hand. The
article further stated that the cause of Mr. Hopkins's insanity was
pecuniary loss, he having withdrawn his savings from safe Comstock
investments and, through the advice of a relative, one of the editors of
the San Francisco Bulletin, invested them in the Spring Valley Water
Company. This absurd tale with startling head-lines appeared in the
Enterprise, in its issue of October 28, 1863.

It was not expected that any one in Virginia City or Carson City would
for a moment take any stock in the wild invention, yet so graphic was it
that nine out of ten on first reading never stopped to consider the
entire impossibility of the locality and circumstance. Even when these
things were pointed out many readers at first refused to confess
themselves sold. As for the Bulletin and other California papers, they
were taken-in completely, and were furious. Many of them wrote and
demanded the immediate discharge of its author, announcing that they
would never copy another line from the Enterprise, or exchange with it,
or have further relations with a paper that had Mark Twain on its staff.
Citizens were mad, too, and cut off their subscriptions. The joker was
in despair.

"Oh, Joe," he said, "I have ruined your business, and the only reparation
I can make is to resign. You can never recover from this blow while I am
on the paper."

"Nonsense," replied Goodman. "We can furnish the people with news, but
we can't supply them with sense. Only time can do that. The flurry will
pass. You just go ahead. We'll win out in the long run."

But the offender was in torture; he could not sleep. "Dan, Dan," he
said, "I am being burned alive on both sides of the mountains."

"Mark," said Dan. "It will all blow over. This item of yours will be
remembered and talked about when the rest of your Enterprise work is
forgotten."

Both Goodman and De Quille were right. In a month papers and people had
forgotten their humiliation and laughed. "The Dutch Nick Massacre" gave
to its perpetrator and to the Enterprise an added vogue.

--[For full text of the "Dutch Nick" hoax see Appendix C, at the end of
last volume: also, for an anecdote concerning a reporting excursion made
by Alf. Doten and Mark Twain.]--




XLII
REPORTORIAL DAYS.

Reference has already been made to the fashion among Virginia City papers
of permitting reporters to use the editorial columns for ridicule of one
another. This custom was especially in vogue during the period when Dan
de Quille and Mark Twain and The Unreliable were the shining journalistic
lights of the Comstock. Scarcely a week went by that some apparently
venomous squib or fling or long burlesque assault did not appear either
in the Union or the Enterprise, with one of those jokers as its author
and another as its target. In one of his "home" letters of that year
Mark Twain says:

    I have just finished writing up my report for the morning paper and
    giving The Unreliable a column of advice about how to conduct
    himself in church.

The advice was such as to call for a reprisal, but it apparently made no
difference in personal relations, for a few weeks later he is with The
Unreliable in San Francisco, seeing life in the metropolis, fairly
swimming in its delights, unable to resist reporting them to his mother.

    We fag ourselves completely out every day and go to sleep without
    rocking every night. When I go down Montgomery Street shaking hands
    with Tom, Dick, and Harry, it is just like being on Main Street in
    Hannibal and meeting the old familiar faces. I do hate to go back
    to Washoe. We take trips across the bay to Oakland, and down to San
    Leandro and Alameda, and we go out to the Willows and Hayes Park and
    Fort Point, and up to Benicia; and yesterday we were invited out on
    a yachting excursion, and had a sail in the fastest yacht on the
    Pacific coast. Rice says: "Oh no--we are not having any fun, Mark
    --oh no--I reckon it's somebody else--it's probably the gentleman in
    the wagon" (popular slang phrase), and when I invite Rice to the
    Lick House to dinner the proprietor sends us champagne and claret,
    and then we do put on the most disgusting airs. The Unreliable says
    our caliber is too light--we can't stand it to be noticed.

Three days later he adds that he is going sorrowfully "to the snows and
the deserts of Washoe," but that he has "lived like a lord to make up for
two years of privation."

Twenty dollars is inclosed in each of these letters, probably as a bribe
to Jane Clemens to be lenient with his prodigalities, which in his
youthful love of display he could not bring himself to conceal. But
apparently the salve was futile, for in another letter, a month later, he
complains that his mother is "slinging insinuations" at him again, such
as "where did you get that money" and "the company I kept in San
Francisco." He explains:

    Why, I sold Wild Cat mining ground that was given me, and my credit
    was always good at the bank for $2,000 or $3,000, and I never gamble
    in any shape or manner, and never drink anything stronger than
    claret and lager beer, which conduct is regarded as miraculously
    temperate in this place. As for company, I went in the very best
    company to be found in San Francisco. I always move in the best
    society in Virginia and have a reputation to preserve.

He closes by assuring her that he will be more careful in future and that
she need never fear but that he will keep her expenses paid. Then he
cannot refrain from adding one more item of his lavish life:

"Put in my washing, and it costs me one hundred dollars a month to live."

De Quille had not missed the opportunity of his comrade's absence to
payoff some old scores. At the end of the editorial column of the
Enterprise on the day following his departure he denounced the absent one
and his "protege," The Unreliable, after the intemperate fashion of the
day.

    It is to be regretted that such scrubs are ever permitted to visit
    the bay, as the inevitable effect will be to destroy that exalted
    opinion of the manners and morality of our people which was inspired
    by the conduct of our senior editor--[which is to say, Dan
    himself]--.

The diatribe closed with a really graceful poem, and the whole was no
doubt highly regarded by the Enterprise readers.

What revenge Mark Twain took on his return has not been recorded, but it
was probably prompt and adequate; or he may have left it to The
Unreliable. It was clearly a mistake, however, to leave his own local
work in the hands of that properly named person a little later. Clemens
was laid up with a cold, and Rice assured him on his sacred honor that he
would attend faithfully to the Enterprise locals, along with his own
Union items. He did this, but he had been nursing old injuries too long.
What was Mark Twain's amazement on looking over the Enterprise next
morning to find under the heading "Apologetic" a statement over his own
nom de plume, purporting to be an apology for all the sins of ridicule to
the various injured ones.

    To Mayor Arick, Hon. Wm. Stewart, Marshal Perry, Hon. J. B. Winters,
    Mr. Olin, and Samuel Wetherill, besides a host of others whom we
    have ridiculed from behind the shelter of our reportorial position,
    we say to these gentlemen we acknowledge our faults, and, in all
    weakness and humility upon our bended marrow bones, we ask their
    forgiveness, promising that in future we will give them no cause for
    anything but the best of feeling toward us. To "Young Wilson" and
    The Unreliable (as we have wickedly termed them), we feel that no
    apology we can make begins to atone for the many insults we have
    given them. Toward these gentlemen we have been as mean as a man
    could be--and we have always prided ourselves on this base quality.
    We feel that we are the least of all humanity, as it were. We will
    now go in sack-cloth and ashes for the next forty days.

This in his own paper over his own signature was a body blow; but it had
the effect of curing his cold. He was back in the office forthwith, and
in the next morning's issue denounced his betrayer.

    We are to blame for giving The Unreliable an opportunity to
    misrepresent us, and therefore refrain from repining to any great
    extent at the result. We simply claim the right to deny the truth
    of every statement made by him in yesterday's paper, to annul all
    apologies he coined as coming from us, and to hold him up to public
    commiseration as a reptile endowed with no more intellect, no more
    cultivation, no more Christian principle than animates and adorns
    the sportive jackass-rabbit of the Sierras. We have done.

These were the things that enlivened Comstock journalism. Once in a
boxing bout Mark Twain got a blow on the nose which caused it to swell to
an unusual size and shape. He went out of town for a few days, during
which De Quille published an extravagant account of his misfortune,
describing the nose and dwelling on the absurdity of Mark Twain's ever
supposing himself to be a boxer.

De Quille scored heavily with this item but his own doom was written.
Soon afterward he was out riding and was thrown from his horse and
bruised considerably.

This was Mark's opportunity. He gave an account of Dan's disaster; then,
commenting, he said:

    The idea of a plebeian like Dan supposing he could ever ride a
    horse! He! why, even the cats and the chickens laughed when they
    saw him go by. Of course, he would be thrown off. Of course, any
    well-bred horse wouldn't let a common, underbred person like Dan
    stay on his back! When they gathered him up he was just a bag of
    scraps, but they put him together, and you'll find him at his old
    place in the Enterprise office next week, still laboring under the
    delusion that he's a newspaper man.

The author of 'Roughing It' tells of a literary periodical called the
Occidental, started in Virginia City by a Mr. F. This was the
silver-tongued Tom Fitch, of the Union, an able speaker and writer,
vastly popular on the Coast. Fitch came to Clemens one day and said he
was thinking of starting such a periodical and asked him what he thought
of the venture. Clemens said:

"You would succeed if any one could, but start a flower-garden on the
desert of Sahara; set up hoisting-works on Mount Vesuvius for mining
sulphur; start a literary paper in Virginia City; h--l!"

Which was a correct estimate of the situation, and the paper perished
with the third issue. It was of no consequence except that it contained
what was probably the first attempt at that modern literary abortion, the
composite novel. Also, it died too soon to publish Mark Twain's first
verses of any pretension, though still of modest merit--"The Aged Pilot
Man"--which were thereby saved for 'Roughing It.'

Visiting Virginia now, it seems curious that any of these things could
have happened there. The Comstock has become little more than a memory;
Virginia and Gold Hill are so quiet, so voiceless, as to constitute
scarcely an echo of the past. The International Hotel, that once so
splendid edifice, through whose portals the tide of opulent life then
ebbed and flowed, is all but deserted now. One may wander at will
through its dingy corridors and among its faded fripperies, seeking in
vain for attendance or hospitality, the lavish welcome of a vanished day.
Those things were not lacking once, and the stream of wealth tossed up
and down the stair and billowed up C Street, an ebullient tide of metals
and men from which millionaires would be struck out, and individuals
known in national affairs. William M. Stewart who would one day become a
United States Senator, was there, an unnoticed unit; and John Mackay and
James G. Fair, one a senator by and by, and both millionaires, but poor
enough then--Fair with a pick on his shoulder and Mackay, too, at first,
though he presently became a mine superintendent. Once in those days
Mark Twain banteringly offered to trade businesses with Mackay.

"No," Mackay said, "I can't trade. My business is not worth as much as
yours. I have never swindled anybody, and I don't intend to begin now."

Neither of those men could dream that within ten years their names would
be international property; that in due course Nevada would propose
statues to their memory.

Such things came out of the Comstock; such things spring out of every
turbulent frontier.




XLIII

ARTEMUS WARD

Madame Caprell's warning concerning Mark Twain's health at twenty-eight
would seem to have been justified. High-strung and neurotic, the strain
of newspaper work and the tumult of the Comstock had told on him. As in
later life, he was subject to bronchial colds, and more than once that
year he found it necessary to drop all work and rest for a time at
Steamboat Springs, a place near Virginia City, where there were boiling
springs and steaming fissures in the mountain-side, and a comfortable
hotel. He contributed from there sketches somewhat more literary in form
than any of his previous work. "Curing a Cold" is a more or less
exaggerated account of his ills.

    [Included in Sketches New and Old. "Information for the Million,"
    and "Advice to Good Little Girls," included in the "Jumping Frog"
    Collection, 1867, but omitted from the Sketches, are also believed
    to belong to this period.]

A portion of a playful letter to his mother, written from the springs,
still exists.

    You have given my vanity a deadly thrust. Behold, I am prone to
    boast of having the widest reputation as a local editor of any man
    on the Pacific coast, and you gravely come forward and tell me "if I
    work hard and attend closely to my business, I may aspire to a place
    on a big San Francisco daily some day." There's a comment on human
    vanity for you! Why, blast it, I was under the impression that I
    could get such a situation as that any time I asked for it. But I
    don't want it. No paper in the United States can afford to pay me
    what my place on the Enterprise is worth. If I were not naturally a
    lazy, idle, good-for-nothing vagabond, I could make it pay me
    $20,000 a year. But I don't suppose I shall ever be any account. I
    lead an easy life, though, and I don't care a cent whether school
    keeps or not. Everybody knows me, and I fare like a prince wherever
    I go, be it on this side of the mountain or the other. And I am
    proud to say I am the most conceited ass in the Territory.

    You think that picture looks old? Well, I can't help it--in reality
    I'm not as old as I was when I was eighteen.

Which was a true statement, so far as his general attitude was concerned.
At eighteen, in New York and Philadelphia, his letters had been grave,
reflective, advisory. Now they were mostly banter and froth, lightly
indifferent to the serious side of things, though perhaps only
pretendedly so, for the picture did look old. From the shock and
circumstance of his brother's death he--had never recovered. He was
barely twenty-eight. From the picture he might have been a man of forty.

It was that year that Artemus Ward (Charles F. Browne) came to Virginia
City. There was a fine opera-house in Virginia, and any attraction that
billed San Francisco did not fail to play to the Comstock. Ward intended
staying only a few days to deliver his lectures, but the whirl of the
Comstock caught him like a maelstrom, and he remained three weeks.

He made the Enterprise office his headquarters, and fairly reveled in the
company he found there. He and Mark Twain became boon companions. Each
recognized in the other a kindred spirit. With Goodman, De Quille, and
McCarthy, also E. E. Hingston--Ward's agent, a companionable fellow--they
usually dined at Chaumond's, Virginia's high-toned French restaurant.

Those were three memorable weeks in Mark Twain's life. Artemus Ward was
in the height of his fame, and he encouraged his new-found
brother-humorist and prophesied great things of him. Clemens, on his
side, measured himself by this man who had achieved fame, and perhaps
with good reason concluded that Ward's estimate was correct, that he too
could win fame and honor, once he got a start. If he had lacked ambition
before Ward's visit, the latter's unqualified approval inspired him with
that priceless article of equipment. He put his soul into entertaining
the visitor during those three weeks; and it was apparent to their
associates that he was at least Ward's equal in mental stature and
originality. Goodman and the others began to realize that for Mark Twain
the rewards of the future were to be measured only by his resolution and
ability to hold out. On Christmas Eve Artemus lectured in Silver City
and afterward came to the Enterprise office to give the boys a farewell
dinner. The Enterprise always published a Christmas carol, and Goodman
sat at his desk writing it. He was just finishing as Ward came in:

"Slave, slave," said Artemus. "Come out and let me banish care from
you."

They got the boys and all went over to Chaumond's, where Ward commanded
Goodman to order the dinner. When the cocktails came on, Artemus lifted
his glass and said:

"I give you Upper Canada."

The company rose, drank the toast in serious silence; then Goodman said:

"Of course, Artemus, it's all right, but why did you give us Upper
Canada?"

"Because I don't want it myself," said Ward, gravely.

Then began a rising tide of humor that could hardly be matched in the
world to-day. Mark Twain had awakened to a fuller power; Artemus Ward
was in his prime. They were giants of a race that became extinct when
Mark Twain died. The youth, the wine, the whirl of lights and life, the
tumult of the shouting street-it was as if an electric stream of
inspiration poured into those two human dynamos and sent them into a
dazzling, scintillating whirl. All gone--as evanescent, as forgotten, as
the lightnings of that vanished time; out of that vast feasting and
entertainment only a trifling morsel remains. Ward now and then asked
Goodman why he did not join in the banter. Goodman said:

"I'm preparing a joke, Artemus, but I'm keeping it for the present."

It was near daybreak when Ward at last called for the bill. It was two
hundred and thirty-seven dollars.

"What"' exclaimed Artemus.

"That's my joke." said Goodman.

"But I was only exclaiming because it was not twice as much," returned
Ward.

He paid it amid laughter, and they went out into the early morning air.
It was fresh and fine outside, not yet light enough to see clearly.
Artemus threw his face up to the sky and said:

"I feel glorious. I feel like walking on the roofs."

Virginia was built on the steep hillside, and the eaves of some of the
houses almost touched the ground behind them.

"There is your chance, Artemus," Goodman said, pointing to a row of these
houses all about of a height.

Artemus grabbed Mark Twain, and they stepped out upon the long string of
roofs and walked their full length, arm in arm. Presently the others
noticed a lonely policeman cocking his revolver and getting ready to aim
in their direction. Goodman called to him:

"Wait a minute. What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to shoot those burglars," he said.

"Don't for your life. Those are not burglars. That's Mark Twain and
Artemus Ward."

The roof-walkers returned, and the party went down the street to a corner
across from the International Hotel. A saloon was there with a barrel
lying in front, used, perhaps for a sort of sign. Artemus climbed
astride the barrel, and somebody brought a beer-glass and put it in his
hand. Virginia City looks out over the Eastward Desert. Morning was
just breaking upon the distant range-the scene as beautiful as when the
sunrise beams across the plain of Memnon. The city was not yet awake.
The only living creatures in sight were the group of belated diners, with
Artemus Ward, as King Gambrinus, pouring a libation to the sunrise.

That was the beginning of a week of glory. The farewell dinner became a
series. At the close of one convivial session Artemus went to a
concert-hall, the "Melodeon," blacked his face, and delivered a speech.
He got away from Virginia about the close of the year.

A day or two later he wrote from Austin, Nevada, to his new-found comrade
as "My dearest Love," recalling the happiness of his stay:

"I shall always remember Virginia as a bright spot in my existence, as
all others must or rather cannot be, as it were."

Then reflectively he adds:

"Some of the finest intellects in the world have been blunted by liquor."

Rare Artemus Ward and rare Mark Twain! If there lies somewhere a place
of meeting and remembrance, they have not failed to recall there those
closing days of '63.




XLIV

GOVERNOR OF THE "THIRD HOUSE"

With Artemus Ward's encouragement, Clemens began to think of extending
his audience eastward. The New York Sunday Mercury published literary
matter. Ward had urged him to try this market, and promised to write a
special letter to the editors, introducing Mark Twain and his work.
Clemens prepared a sketch of the Comstock variety, scarcely refined in
character and full of personal allusion, a humor not suited to the
present-day reader. Its general subject was children; it contained some
absurd remedies, supposedly sent to his old pilot friend Zeb Leavenworth,
and was written as much for a joke on that good-natured soul as for
profit or reputation.

"I wrote it especially for Beck Jolly's use," the author declares, in a
letter to his mother, "so he could pester Zeb with it."

We cannot know to-day whether Zeb was pestered or not. A faded clipping
is all that remains of the incident. As literature the article, properly
enough, is lost to the world at large. It is only worth remembering as
his metropolitan beginning. Yet he must have thought rather highly of it
(his estimation of his own work was always unsafe), for in the letter
above quoted he adds:

    I cannot write regularly for the Mercury, of course, I sha'n't have
    time. But sometimes I throw off a pearl (there is no self-conceit
    about that, I beg you to observe) which ought for the eternal
    welfare of my race to have a more extensive circulation than is
    afforded by a local daily paper.

    And if Fitzhugh Ludlow (author of the 'Hasheesh Eater') comes your
    way, treat him well. He published a high encomium upon Mark Twain
    (the same being eminently just and truthful, I beseech you to
    believe) in a San Francisco paper. Artemus Ward said that when my
    gorgeous talents were publicly acknowledged by such high authority I
    ought to appreciate them myself, leave sage-brush obscurity, and
    journey to New York with him, as he wanted me to do. But I
    preferred not to burst upon the New York public too suddenly and
    brilliantly, so I concluded to remain here.

He was in Carson City when this was written, preparing for the opening of
the next legislature. He was beyond question now the most conspicuous
figure of the capital; also the most wholesomely respected, for his
influence had become very large. It was said that he could control more
votes than any legislative member, and with his friends, Simmons and
Clagget, could pass or defeat any bill offered. The Enterprise was a
powerful organ--to be courted and dreaded--and Mark Twain had become its
chief tribune. That he was fearless, merciless, and incorruptible,
without doubt had a salutary influence on that legislative session. He
reveled in his power; but it is not recorded that he ever abused it. He
got a bill passed, largely increasing Orion's official fees, but this was
a crying need and was so recognized. He made no secret promises, none at
all that he did not intend to fulfill. "Sam's word was as fixed as
fate," Orion records, and it may be added that he was morally as
fearless.

The two Houses of the last territorial legislature of Nevada assembled
January 12, 1864.--[Nevada became a State October 31, 1864.]--A few days
later a "Third House" was organized--an institution quite in keeping with
the happy atmosphere of that day and locality, for it was a burlesque
organization, and Mark Twain was selected as its "Governor."

The new House prepared to make a public occasion of this first session,
and its Governor was required to furnish a message. Then it was decided
to make it a church benefit. The letters exchanged concerning this
proposition still exist; they explain themselves:

                     CARSON CITY, January 23, 1864.

    GOV. MARK TWAIN, Understanding from certain members of the Third
    House of the territorial Legislature that that body will have
    effected a permanent organization within a day or two, and be ready
    for the reception of your Third Annual Message,--[ There had been
    no former message. This was regarded as a great joke.]--we desire
    to ask your permission, and that of the Third House, to turn the
    affair to the benefit of the Church by charging toll-roads,
    franchises, and other persons a dollar apiece for the privilege of
    listening to your communication.
                     S. PIXLEY,
                     G. A. SEARS,
                            Trustees.

                     CARSON CITY, January 23, 1864.

    GENTLEMEN,--Certainly. If the public can find anything in a grave
    state paper worth paying a dollar for, I am willing they should pay
    that amount, or any other; and although I am not a very dusty
    Christian myself, I take an absorbing interest in religious affairs,
    and would willingly inflict my annual message upon the Church itself
    if it might derive benefit thereby. You can charge what you please;
    I promise the public no amusement, but I do promise a reasonable
    amount of instruction. I am responsible to the Third House only,
    and I hope to be permitted to make it exceedingly warm for that
    body, without caring whether the sympathies of the public and the
    Church be enlisted in their favor, and against myself, or not.
                     Respectfully,
                     MARK TWAIN.

Mark Twain's reply is closely related to his later style in phrase and
thought. It might have been written by him at almost any subsequent
period. Perhaps his association with Artemus Ward had awakened a new
perception of the humorous idea--a humor of repression, of
understatement. He forgot this often enough, then and afterward, and
gave his riotous fancy free rein; but on the whole the simpler, less
florid form seemingly began to attract him more and more.

His address as Governor of the Third House has not been preserved, but
those who attended always afterward referred to it as the "greatest
effort of his life." Perhaps for that audience and that time this
verdict was justified.

It was his first great public opportunity. On the stage about him sat
the membership of the Third House; the building itself was packed, the
aisles full. He knew he could let himself go in burlesque and satire,
and he did. He was unsparing in his ridicule of the Governor, the
officials in general, the legislative members, and of individual
citizens. From the beginning to the end of his address the audience was
in a storm of laughter and applause. With the exception of the dinner
speech made to the printers in Keokuk, it was his first public utterance
--the beginning of a lifelong series of triumphs.

Only one thing marred his success. Little Carrie Pixley, daughter of one
of the "trustees," had promised to be present and sit in a box next the
stage. It was like him to be fond of the child, and he had promised to
send a carriage for her. Often during his address he glanced toward the
box; but it remained empty. When the affair was ended, he drove home
with her father to inquire the reason. They found the little girl, in
all her finery, weeping on the bed. Then he remembered he had forgotten
to send the carriage; and that was like him, too.

For his Third House address Judge A. W. (Sandy) Baldwin and Theodore
Winters presented him with a gold watch inscribed to "Governor Mark
Twain." He was more in demand now than ever; no social occasion was
regarded as complete without him. His doings were related daily and his
sayings repeated on the streets. Most of these things have passed away
now, but a few are still recalled with smiles. Once, when conundrums
were being asked at a party, he was urged to make one.

"Well," he sand, "why am I like the Pacific Ocean?"

Several guesses were made, but none satisfied him. Finally all gave it
up.

"Tell us, Mark, why are you like the Pacific Ocean?"

"I don't know," he drawled. "I was just asking for information."

At another time, when a young man insisted on singing a song of eternal
length, the chorus of which was, "I'm going home, I'm going home, I'm
going home tomorrow," Mark Twain put his head in the window and said,
pleadingly:

"For God's sake go to-night."

But he was also fond of quieter society. Sometimes, after the turmoil of
a legislative morning, he would drop in to Miss Keziah Clapp's school and
listen to the exercises, or would call on Colonel Curry--"old Curry, old
Abe Curry"--and if the colonel happened to be away, he would talk with
Mrs. Curry, a motherly soul (still alive at ninety-three, in 1910), and
tell her of his Hannibal boyhood or his river and his mining adventures,
and keep her laughing until the tears ran.

He was a great pedestrian in those days. Sometimes he walked from
Virginia to Carson, stopping at Colonel Curry's as he came in for rest
and refreshment.

"Mrs. Curry," he said once, "I have seen tireder men than I am, and
lazier men, but they were dead men." He liked the home feeling there
--the peace and motherly interest. Deep down, he was lonely and
homesick; he was always so away from his own kindred.

Clemens returned now to Virginia City, and, like all other men who ever
met her, became briefly fascinated by the charms of Adah Isaacs Menken,
who was playing Mazeppa at the Virginia Opera House. All men--kings,
poets, priests, prize-fighters--fell under Menken's spell. Dan de Quille
and Mark Twain entered into a daily contest as to who could lavish the
most fervid praise on her in the Enterprise. The latter carried her his
literary work to criticize. He confesses this in one of his home
letters, perhaps with a sort of pride.

I took it over to show to Miss Menken the actress, Orpheus C. Ken's wife.
She is a literary cuss herself.

She has a beautiful white hand, but her handwriting is infamous; she
writes fast and her chirography is of the door-plate order--her letters
are immense. I gave her a conundrum, thus:

"My dear madam, why ought your hand to retain its present grace and
beauty always? Because you fool away devilish little of it on your
manuscript."

But Menken was gone presently, and when he saw her again, somewhat later,
in San Francisco, his "madness" would have seemed to have been allayed.




XLV

A COMSTOCK DUEL

The success--such as it was--of his occasional contributions to the New
York Sunday Mercury stirred Mark Twain's ambition for a wider field of
labor. Circumstance, always ready to meet his wishes, offered
assistance, though in an unexpected form.

Goodman, temporarily absent, had left Clemens in editorial charge. As in
that earlier day, when Orion had visited Tennessee and returned to find
his paper in a hot personal warfare with certain injured citizens, so the
Enterprise, under the same management, had stirred up trouble. It was
just at the time of the "Flour Sack Sanitary Fund," the story of which is
related at length in 'Roughing It'. In the general hilarity of this
occasion, certain Enterprise paragraphs of criticism or ridicule had
incurred the displeasure of various individuals whose cause naturally
enough had been espoused by a rival paper, the Chronicle. Very soon the
original grievance, whatever it was, was lost sight of in the fireworks
and vitriol-throwing of personal recrimination between Mark Twain and the
Chronicle editor, then a Mr. Laird.

A point had been reached at length when only a call for bloodshed--a
challenge--could satisfy either the staff or the readers of the two
papers. Men were killed every week for milder things than the editors
had spoken each of the other. Joe Goodman himself, not so long before,
had fought a duel with a Union editor--Tom Fitch--and shot him in the
leg, so making of him a friend, and a lame man, for life. In Joe's
absence the prestige of the paper must be maintained.

Mark Twain himself has told in burlesque the story of his duel, keeping
somewhat nearer to the fact than was his custom in such writing, as may
be seen by comparing it with the account of his abettor and second--of
course, Steve Gillis. The account is from Mr. Gillis's own hand:

    When Joe went away, he left Sam in editorial charge of the paper.
    That was a dangerous thing to do. Nobody could ever tell what Sam
    was going to write. Something he said stirred up Mr. Laird, of the
    Chronicle, who wrote a reply of a very severe kind. He said some
    things that we told Mark could only be wiped out with blood. Those
    were the days when almost every man in Virginia City had fought with
    pistols either impromptu or premeditated duels. I had been in
    several, but then mine didn't count. Most of them were of the
    impromptu kind. Mark hadn't had any yet, and we thought it about
    time that his baptism took place.

    He was not eager for it; he was averse to violence, but we finally
    prevailed upon him to send Laird a challenge, and when Laird did not
    send a reply at once we insisted on Mark sending him another
    challenge, by which time he had made himself believe that he really
    wanted to fight, as much as we wanted him to do. Laird concluded to
    fight, at last. I helped Mark get up some of the letters, and a man
    who would not fight after such letters did not belong in Virginia
    City--in those days.

    Laird's acceptance of Mark's challenge came along about midnight, I
    think, after the papers had gone to press. The meeting was to take
    place next morning at sunrise.

    Of course I was selected as Mark's second, and at daybreak I had him
    up and out for some lessons in pistol practice before meeting Laird.
    I didn't have to wake him. He had not been asleep. We had been
    talking since midnight over the duel that was coming. I had been
    telling him of the different duels in which I had taken part, either
    as principal or second, and how many men I had helped to kill and
    bury, and how it was a good plan to make a will, even if one had not
    much to leave. It always looked well, I told him, and seemed to be
    a proper thing to do before going into a duel. So Mark made a will
    with a sort of gloomy satisfaction, and as soon as it was light
    enough to see, we went out to a little ravine near the meeting-
    place, and I set up a board for him to shoot at. He would step out,
    raise that big pistol, and when I would count three he would shut
    his eyes and pull the trigger. Of course he didn't hit anything; he
    did not come anywhere near hitting anything. Just then we heard
    somebody shooting over in the next ravine. Sam said:

    "What's that, Steve?"

    "Why," I said, "that's Laud. His seconds are practising him over
    there."

    It didn't make my principal any more cheerful to hear that pistol go
    off every few seconds over there. Just then I saw a little mud-hen
    light on some sage-brush about thirty yards away.

    "Mark," I said, "let me have that pistol. I'll show you how to
    shoot."

    He handed it to me, and I let go at the bird and shot its head off,
    clean. About that time Laird and his second came over the ridge to
    meet us. I saw them coming and handed Mark back the pistol. We
    were looking at the bird when they came up.

    "Who did that?" asked Laird's second.

    "Sam," I said.

    "How far off was it?"

    "Oh, about thirty yards."

    "Can he do it again?"

    "Of course," I said; "every time. He could do it twice that far."

    Laud's second turned to his principal.

    "Laird," he said, "you don't want to fight that man. It's just like
    suicide. You'd better settle this thing, now."

    So there was a settlement. Laird took back all he had said; Mark
    said he really had nothing against Laird--the discussion had been
    purely journalistic and did not need to be settled in blood. He
    said that both he and Laird were probably the victims of their
    friends. I remember one of the things Laird said when his second
    told him he had better not fight.

    "Fight! H--l, no! I am not going to be murdered by that d--d
    desperado."

    Sam had sent another challenge to a man named Cutler, who had been
    somehow mixed up with the muss and had written Sam an insulting
    letter; but Cutler was out of town at the time, and before he got
    back we had received word from Jerry Driscoll, foreman of the Grand
    jury, that the law just passed, making a duel a penitentiary offense
    for both principal and second, was to be strictly enforced, and
    unless we got out of town in a limited number of hours we would be
    the first examples to test the new law.

We concluded to go, and when the stage left next morning for San
Francisco we were on the outside seat. Joe Goodman had returned by this
time and agreed to accompany us as far as Henness Pass. We were all in
good spirits and glad we were alive, so Joe did not stop when he got to
Henness Pass, but kept on. Now and then he would say, "Well, I had
better be going back pretty soon," but he didn't go, and in the end he
did not go back at all, but went with us clear to San Francisco, and we
had a royal good time all the way. I never knew any series of duels to
close so happily.

So ended Mark Twain's career on the Comstock. He had come to it a weary
pilgrim, discouraged and unknown; he was leaving it with a new name and
fame--elate, triumphant, even if a fugitive.




XLVI

GETTING SETTLED IN SAN FRANCISCO

This was near the end of May, 1864. The intention of both Gillis and
Clemens was to return to the States; but once in San Francisco both
presently accepted places, Clemens as reporter and Gillis as compositor,
on the 'Morning Call'.

From 'Roughing It' the reader gathers that Mark Twain now entered into a
life of butterfly idleness on the strength of prospective riches to be
derived from the "half a trunkful of mining stocks," and that presently,
when the mining bubble exploded, he was a pauper. But a good many
liberties have been taken with the history of this period. Undoubtedly
he expected opulent returns from his mining stocks, and was disappointed,
particularly in an investment in Hale and Norcross shares, held too long
for the large profit which could have been made by selling at the proper
time.

The fact is, he spent not more than a few days--a fortnight at most--in
"butterfly idleness," at the Lick House before he was hard at work on the
'Call', living modestly with Steve Gillis in the quietest place they
could find, never quiet enough, but as far as possible from dogs and cats
and chickens and pianos, which seemed determined to make the mornings
hideous, when a weary night reporter and compositor wanted to rest. They
went out socially, on occasion, arrayed in considerable elegance; but
their recreations were more likely to consist of private midnight orgies,
after the paper had gone to press--mild dissipations in whatever they
could find to eat at that hour, with a few glasses of beer, and perhaps a
game of billiards or pool in some all-night resort. A printer by the
name of Ward--"Little Ward,"--[L. P. Ward; well known as an athlete in
San Francisco. He lost his mind and fatally shot himself in 1903.]
--they called him--often went with them for these refreshments. Ward and
Gillis were both bantam game-cocks, and sometimes would stir up trouble
for the very joy of combat. Clemens never cared for that sort of thing
and discouraged it, but Ward and Gillis were for war. "They never
assisted each other. If one had offered to assist the other against some
overgrown person, it would have been an affront, and a battle would have
followed between that pair of little friends."--[S. L. C., 1906.]--Steve
Gillis in particular, was fond of incidental encounters, a characteristic
which would prove an important factor somewhat later in shaping Mark
Twain's career. Of course, the more strenuous nights were not frequent.
Their home-going was usually tame enough and they were glad enough to get
there.

Clemens, however, was never quite ready for sleep. Then, as ever, he
would prop himself up in bed, light his pipe, and lose himself in English
or French history until sleep conquered. His room-mate did not approve
of this habit; it interfered with his own rest, and with his fiendish
tendency to mischief he found reprisal in his own fashion. Knowing his
companion's highly organized nervous system he devised means of torture
which would induce him to put out the light. Once he tied a nail to a
string; an arrangement which he kept on the floor behind the bed.
Pretending to be asleep, he would hold the end of the string, and lift it
gently up and down, making a slight ticking sound on the floor, maddening
to a nervous man. Clemens would listen a moment and say:

"What in the nation is that noise"

Gillis's pretended sleep and the ticking would continue.

Clemens would sit up in bed, fling aside his book, and swear violently.

"Steve, what is that d--d noise?" he would say.

Steve would pretend to rouse sleepily.

"What's the matter, Sam? What noise? Oh, I guess that is one of those
death-ticks; they don't like the light. Maybe it will stop in a minute."

It usually did stop about that time, and the reading would be apt to
continue. But no sooner was there stillness than it began again--tick,
tick, tick. With a wild explosion of blasphemy, the book would go across
the floor and the light would disappear. Sometimes, when he couldn't
sleep, he would dress and walk out in the street for an hour, while the
cruel Steve slept like the criminal that he was.

At last, one night, he overdid the thing and was caught. His tortured
room-mate at first reviled him, then threatened to kill him, finally put
him to shame. It was curious, but they always loved each other, those
two; there was never anything resembling an estrangement, and to his last
days Mark Twain never could speak of Steve Gillis without tenderness.

They moved a great many times in San Francisco. Their most satisfactory
residence was on a bluff on California Street. Their windows looked down
on a lot of Chinese houses--"tin-can houses," they were called--small
wooden shanties covered with beaten-out cans. Steve and Mark would look
down on these houses, waiting until all the Chinamen were inside; then
one of them would grab an empty beer-bottle, throw it down on those tin
can roofs, and dodge behind the blinds. The Chinamen would swarm out and
look up at the row of houses on the edge of the bluff, shake their fists,
and pour out Chinese vituperation. By and by, when they had retired and
everything was quiet again, their tormentors would throw another bottle.
This was their Sunday amusement.

At a place on Minna Street they lived with a private family. At first
Clemens was delighted.

"Just look at it, Steve," he said. "What a nice, quiet place. Not a
thing to disturb us."

But next morning a dog began to howl. Gillis woke this time, to find his
room-mate standing in the door that opened out into a back garden,
holding a big revolver, his hand shaking with cold and excitement.

"Came here, Steve," he said. "Come here and kill him. I'm so chilled
through I can't get a bead on him."

"Sam," said Steve, "don't shoot him. Just swear at him. You can easily
kill him at that range with your profanity."

Steve Gillis declares that Mark Twain then let go such a scorching,
singeing blast that the brute's owner sold him next day for a Mexican
hairless dog.

We gather that they moved, on an average, about once a month. A home
letter of September 25, 1864, says:

    We have been here only four months, yet we have changed our lodging
    five times. We are very comfortably fixed where we are now and have
    no fault to find with the rooms or the people. We are the only
    lodgers-in a well-to-do private family . . . . But I need change
    and must move again.

This was the Minna Street place--the place of the dog. In the same
letter he mentions having made a new arrangement with the Call, by which
he is to receive twenty-five dollars a week, with no more night-work; he
says further that he has closed with the Californian for weekly articles
at twelve dollars each.




XLVII

BOHEMIAN DAYS

Mark Twain's position on the 'Call' was uncongenial from the start. San
Francisco was a larger city than Virginia; the work there was necessarily
more impersonal, more a routine of news-gathering and drudgery. He once
set down his own memories of it:

    At nine in the morning I had to be at the police court for an hour
    and make a brief history of the squabbles of the night before. They
    were usually between Irishmen and Irishmen, and Chinamen and
    Chinamen, with now and then a squabble between the two races, for a
    change.

    During the rest of the day we raked the town from end to end,
    gathering such material as we might, wherewith to fill our required
    columns; and if there were no fires to report, we started some. At
    night we visited the six theaters, one after the other, seven nights
    in the week. We remained in each of those places five minutes, got
    the merest passing glimpse of play and opera, and with that for a
    text we "wrote up" those plays and operas, as the phrase goes,
    torturing our souls every night in the effort to find something to
    say about those performances which we had not said a couple of
    hundred times before.

    It was fearful drudgery-soulless drudgery--and almost destitute of
    interest. It was an awful slavery for a lazy man.

On the Enterprise he had been free, with a liberty that amounted to
license. He could write what he wished, and was personally responsible
to the readers. On the Call he was simply a part of a news-machine;
restricted by a policy, the whole a part of a still greater machine
--politics. Once he saw some butchers set their dogs on an unoffending
Chinaman, a policeman looking on with amused interest. He wrote an
indignant article criticizing the city government and raking the police.
In Virginia City this would have been a welcome delight; in San Francisco
it did not appear.

At another time he found a policeman asleep on his beat. Going to a
near-by vegetable stall he borrowed a large cabbage-leaf, came back and
stood over the sleeper, gently fanning him. It would be wasted effort to
make an item of this incident; but he could publish it in his own
fashion. He stood there fanning the sleeping official until a large
crowd collected. When he thought it was large enough he went away. Next
day the joke was all over the city.

Only one of the several severe articles he wrote criticizing officials
and institutions seems to have appeared--an attack on an undertaker whose
establishment formed a branch of the coroner's office. The management of
this place one day refused information to a Call reporter, and the next
morning its proprietor was terrified by a scathing denunciation of his
firm. It began, "Those body-snatchers" and continued through half a
column of such scorching strictures as only Mark Twain could devise. The
Call's policy of suppression evidently did not include criticisms of
deputy coroners.

Such liberty, however, was too rare for Mark Twain, and he lost interest.
He confessed afterward that he became indifferent and lazy, and that
George E. Barnes, one of the publishers of the Call, at last allowed him
an assistant. He selected from the counting-room a big, hulking youth by
the name of McGlooral, with the acquired prefix of "Smiggy." Clemens had
taken a fancy to Smiggy McGlooral--on account of his name and size
perhaps--and Smiggy, devoted to his patron, worked like a slave gathering
news nights--daytimes, too, if necessary--all of which was demoralizing
to a man who had small appetite for his place anyway. It was only a
question of time when Smiggy alone would be sufficient for the job.

There were other and pleasanter things in San Francisco. The personal
and literary associations were worth while. At his right hand in the
Call office sat Frank Soule--a gentle spirit--a graceful versifier who
believed himself a poet. Mark Twain deferred to Frank Soule in those
days. He thought his verses exquisite in their workmanship; a word of
praise from Soule gave him happiness. In a luxurious office up-stairs
was another congenial spirit--a gifted, handsome fellow of twenty-four,
who was secretary of the Mint, and who presently became editor of a new
literary weekly, the Californian, which Charles Henry Webb had founded.
This young man's name was Francis Bret Harte, originally from Albany,
later a miner and school-teacher on the Stanislaus, still later a
compositor, finally a contributor, on the Golden Era. His fame scarcely
reached beyond San Francisco as yet; but among the little coterie of
writing folk that clustered about the Era office his rank was high. Mark
Twain fraternized with Bret Harte and the Era group generally. He felt
that he had reached the land--or at least the borderland--of Bohemia,
that Ultima Thule of every young literary dream.

San Francisco did, in fact, have a very definite literary atmosphere and
a literature of its own. Its coterie of writers had drifted from here
and there, but they had merged themselves into a California body-poetic,
quite as individual as that of Cambridge, even if less famous, less
fortunate in emoluments than the Boston group. Joseph E. Lawrence,
familiarly known as "Joe" Lawrence, was editor of the Golden Era,--[The
Golden Era, California's first literary publication, was founded by
Rollin M. Daggett and J. McDonough Foard in 1852.]--and his kindness and
hospitality were accounted sufficient rewards even when his pecuniary
acknowledgments were modest enough. He had a handsome office, and the
literati, local and visiting, used to gather there. Names that would be
well known later were included in that little band. Joaquin Miller
recalls from an old diary, kept by him then, having seen Adah Isaacs
Menken, Prentice Mulford, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, Fitzhugh
Ludlow, Mark Twain, Orpheus C. Kerr, Artemus Ward, Gilbert Densmore, W.
S. Kendall, and Mrs. Hitchcock assembled there at one time. The Era
office would seem to have been a sort of Mount Olympus, or Parnassus,
perhaps; for these were mainly poets, who had scarcely yet attained to
the dignity of gods. Miller was hardly more than a youth then, and this
grand assemblage impressed him, as did the imposing appointments of the
place.

    The Era rooms were elegant--[he says]--the most grandly carpeted
    and most gorgeously furnished that I have ever seen. Even now in my
    memory they seem to have been simply palatial. I have seen the
    world well since then--all of its splendors worth seeing--yet those
    carpeted parlors, with Joe Lawrence and his brilliant satellites,
    outshine all things else, as I turn to look back.

More than any other city west of the Alleghanies, San Francisco has
always been a literary center; and certainly that was a remarkable group
to be out there under the sunset, dropped down there behind the Sierras,
which the transcontinental railway would not climb yet, for several
years. They were a happy-hearted, aspiring lot, and they got as much as
five dollars sometimes for an Era article, and were as proud of it as if
it had been a great deal more. They felt that they were creating
literature, as they were, in fact; a new school of American letters
mustered there.

Mark Twain and Bret Harte were distinctive features of this group. They
were already recognized by their associates as belonging in a class by
themselves, though as yet neither had done any of the work for which he
would be remembered later. They were a good deal together, and it was
when Harte was made editor of the Californian that Mark Twain was put on
the weekly staff at the then unexampled twelve-dollar rate. The
Californian made larger pretensions than the Era, and perhaps had a
heavier financial backing. With Mark Twain on the staff and Bret Harte
in the chair, himself a frequent contributor, it easily ranked as first
of San Francisco periodicals. A number of the sketches collected by Webb
later, in Mark Twain's first little volume, the Celebrated Jumping Frog,
Etc., appeared in the Era or Californian in 1864 and 1865. They were
smart, bright, direct, not always refined, but probably the best humor of
the day. Some of them are still preserved in this volume of sketches.
They are interesting in what they promise, rather than in what they
present, though some of them are still delightful enough. "The Killing
of Julius Caesar Localized" is an excellent forerunner of his burlesque
report of a gladiatorial combat in The Innocents Abroad. The Answers to
Correspondents, with his vigorous admonition of the statistical moralist,
could hardly have been better done at any later period. The Jumping Frog
itself was not originally of this harvest. It has a history of its own,
as we shall see a little further along.

The reportorial arrangement was of brief duration. Even the great San
Francisco earthquake of that day did not awaken in Mark Twain any
permanent enthusiasm for the drudgery of the 'Call'. He had lost
interest, and when Mark Twain lost interest in a subject or an
undertaking that subject or that undertaking were better dead, so far as
he was concerned. His conclusion of service with the Call was certain,
and he wondered daily why it was delayed so long. The connection had
become equally unsatisfactory to proprietor and employee. They had a
heart-to-heart talk presently, with the result that Mark Twain was free.
He used to claim, in after-years, with his usual tendency to confess the
worst of himself, that he was discharged, and the incident has been
variously told. George Barnes himself has declared that Clemens resigned
with great willingness. It is very likely that the paragraph at the end
of Chapter LVIII in 'Roughing It' presents the situation with fair
accuracy, though, as always, the author makes it as unpleasant for
himself as possible:

"At last one of the proprietors took me aside, with a charity I still
remember with considerable respect, and gave me an opportunity to resign
my berth, and so save myself the disgrace of a dismissal."

As an extreme contrast with the supposititious "butterfly idleness" of
his beginning in San Francisco, and for no other discoverable reason, he
doubtless thought it necessary, in the next chapter of that book, to
depict himself as having reached the depths of hard luck, debt, and
poverty.

"I became an adept at slinking," he says. "I slunk from back street to
back street.... I slunk to my bed. I had pawned everything but the
clothes I had on."

This is pure fiction. That he occasionally found himself short of funds
is likely enough--a literary life invites that sort of thing--but that he
ever clung to a single "silver ten-cent piece," as he tells us, and
became the familiar of mendicancy, was a condition supplied altogether by
his later imagination to satisfy what he must have regarded as an
artistic need. Almost immediately following his separation from the
'Call' he arranged with Goodman to write a daily letter for the
Enterprise, reporting San Francisco matters after his own notion with a
free hand. His payment for this work was thirty dollars a week, and he
had an additional return from his literary sketches. The arrangement was
an improvement both as to labor and income.

Real affluence appeared on the horizon just then, in the form of a
liberal offer for the Tennessee land. But alas! it was from a
wine-grower who wished to turn the tract into great vineyards, and Orion
had a prohibition seizure at the moment, so the trade was not made.
Orion further argued that the prospective purchaser would necessarily be
obliged to import horticultural labor from Europe, and that those people
might be homesick, badly treated, and consequently unhappy in those far
eastern Tennessee mountains. Such was Orion's way.




XLVIII

THE REFUGE OF THE HILLS

Those who remember Mark Twain's Enterprise letters (they are no longer
obtainable)--[Many of these are indeed now obtainable by a simple Web
search. D.W.]--declare them to have been the greatest series of daily
philippics ever written. However this may be, it is certain that they
made a stir. Goodman permitted him to say absolutely what he pleased
upon any subject. San Francisco was fairly weltering in corruption,
official and private. He assailed whatever came first to hand with all
the fierceness of a flaming indignation long restrained.

Quite naturally he attacked the police, and with such ferocity and
penetration that as soon as copies of the Enterprise came from Virginia
the City Hall began to boil and smoke and threaten trouble. Martin G.
Burke, then chief of police, entered libel suit against the Enterprise,
prodigiously advertising that paper, copies of which were snatched as
soon as the stage brought them.

Mark Twain really let himself go then. He wrote a letter that on the
outside was marked, "Be sure and let Joe see this before it goes in." He
even doubted himself whether Goodman would dare to print it, after
reading. It was a letter describing the city's corrupt morals under the
existing police government. It began, "The air is full of lechery, and
rumors of lechery," and continued in a strain which made even the
Enterprise printers aghast.

"You can never afford to publish that," the foreman said to, Goodman.

"Let it all go in, every word," Goodman answered. "If Mark can stand it,
I can!"

It seemed unfortunate (at the time) that Steve Gillis should select this
particular moment to stir up trouble that would involve both himself and
Clemens with the very officials which the latter had undertaken to
punish. Passing a saloon one night alone, Gillis heard an altercation
going on inside, and very naturally stepped in to enjoy it. Including
the barkeeper, there were three against two. Steve ranged himself on the
weaker side, and selected the barkeeper, a big bruiser, who, when the
fight was over, was ready for the hospital. It turned out that he was
one of Chief Burke's minions, and Gillis was presently indicted on a
charge of assault with intent to kill. He knew some of the officials in
a friendly way, and was advised to give a straw bond and go into
temporary retirement. Clemens, of course, went his bail, and Steve set
out for Virginia City, until the storm blew over.

This was Burke's opportunity. When the case was called and Gillis did
not appear, Burke promptly instituted an action against his bondsman,
with an execution against his loose property. The watch that had been
given him as Governor of the Third House came near being thus sacrificed
in the cause of friendship, and was only saved by skilful manipulation.

Now, it was down in the chain of circumstances that Steve Gillis's
brother, James N. Gillis, a gentle-hearted hermit, a pocket-miner of the
halcyon Tuolumne district--the Truthful James of Bret Harte--happened to
be in San Francisco at this time, and invited Clemens to return with him
to the far seclusion of his cabin on Jackass Hill. In that peaceful
retreat were always rest and refreshment for the wayfarer, and more than
one weary writer besides Bret Harte had found shelter there. James
Gillis himself had fine literary instincts, but he remained a
pocket-miner because he loved that quiet pursuit of gold, the Arcadian
life, the companionship of his books, the occasional Bohemian pilgrim who
found refuge in his retreat. It is said that the sick were made well,
and the well made better, in Jim Gillis's cabin on the hilltop, where the
air was nectar and the stillness like enchantment. One could mine there
if he wished to do so; Jim would always furnish him a promising claim,
and teach him the art of following the little fan-like drift of gold
specks to the nested deposit of nuggets somewhere up the hillside. He
regularly shared his cabin with one Dick Stoker (Dick Baker, of 'Roughing
It'), another genial soul who long ago had retired from the world to this
forgotten land, also with Dick's cat, Tom Quartz; but there was always
room for guests.

In 'Roughing It', and in a later story, "The Californian's Tale," Mark
Twain has made us acquainted with the verdant solitude of the Tuolumne
hills, that dreamy, delicious paradise where once a vast population had
gathered when placer-mining had been in its bloom, a dozen years before.
The human swarm had scattered when the washings failed to pay, leaving
only a quiet emptiness and the few pocket-miners along the Stanislaus and
among the hills. Vast areas of that section present a strange appearance
to-day. Long stretches there are, crowded and jammed and drifted with
ghostly white stones that stand up like fossils of a prehistoric life
--the earth deposit which once covered them entirely washed away, every
particle of it removed by the greedy hordes, leaving only this vast
bleaching drift, literally the "picked bones of the land." At one place
stands Columbia, regarded once as a rival to Sacramento, a possible State
capital--a few tumbling shanties now--and a ruined church.

It was the 4th of December, 1864, when Mark Twain arrived at Jim Gillis's
cabin. He found it a humble habitation made of logs and slabs, partly
sheltered by a great live-oak tree, surrounded by a stretch of grass. It
had not much in the way of pretentious furniture, but there was a large
fireplace, and a library which included the standard authors. A younger
Gillis boy, William, was there at this time, so that the family numbered
five in all, including Tom Quartz, the cat. On rainy days they would
gather about the big, open fire and Jim Gillis, with his back to the
warmth, would relate diverting yarns, creations of his own, turned out
hot from the anvil, forged as he went along. He had a startling
imagination, and he had fostered it in that secluded place. His stories
usually consisted of wonderful adventures of his companion, Dick Stoker,
portrayed with humor and that serene and vagrant fancy which builds as it
goes, careless as to whither it is proceeding and whether the story shall
end well or ill, soon or late, if ever. He always pretended that these
extravagant tales of Stoker were strictly true; and Stoker--"forty-six
and gray as a rat"--earnest, thoughtful, and tranquilly serene, would
smoke and look into the fire and listen to those astonishing things of
himself, smiling a little now and then but saying never a word. What did
it matter to him? He had no world outside of the cabin and the hills, no
affairs; he would live and die there; his affairs all had ended long ago.
A number of the stories used in Mark Twain's books were first told by Jim
Gillis, standing with his hands crossed behind him, back to the fire, in
the cabin on jackass Hill. The story of Dick Baker's cat was one of
these; the jaybird and Acorn story of 'A Tramp Abroad' was another; also
the story of the "Burning Shame," and there are others. Mark Twain had
little to add to these stories; in fact, he never could get them to sound
as well, he said, as when Jim Gillis had told them.

James Gillis's imagination sometimes led him into difficulties. Once a
feeble old squaw came along selling some fruit that looked like green
plums. Stoker, who knew the fruit well enough, carelessly ventured the
remark that it might be all right, but he had never heard of anybody
eating it, which set Gillis off into eloquent praises of its delights,
all of which he knew to be purely imaginary; whereupon Stoker told him if
he liked the fruit so well, to buy some of it. There was no escape after
that; Jim had to buy some of those plums, whose acid was of the
hair-lifting aqua-fortis variety, and all the rest of the day he stewed
them, adding sugar, trying to make them palatable, tasting them now and
then, boasting meanwhile of their nectar-like deliciousness. He gave the
others a taste by and by--a withering, corroding sup--and they derided
him and rode him down. But Jim never weakened. He ate that fearful
brew, and though for days his mouth was like fire he still referred to
the luscious health-giving joys of the "Californian plums."

Jackass Hill was not altogether a solitude; here and there were
neighbors. Another pocket-miner; named Carrington, had a cabin not far
away, and a mile or two distant lived an old couple with a pair of pretty
daughters, so plump and trim and innocent, that they were called the
"Chapparal Quails." Young men from far and near paid court to them, and
on Sunday afternoons so many horses would be tied to their front fence as
to suggest an afternoon service there. Young "Billy" Gillis knew them,
and one Sunday morning took his brother's friend, Sam Clemens, over for a
call. They went early, with forethought, and promptly took the girls for
a walk. They took a long walk, and went wandering over the hills, toward
Sandy Bar and the Stanislaus--through that reposeful land which Bret
Harte would one day light with idyllic romance--and toward evening found
themselves a long way from home. They must return by the nearest way to
arrive before dark. One of the young ladies suggested a short cut
through the Chemisal, and they started. But they were lost, presently,
and it was late, very late, when at last they reached the ranch. The
mother of the "Quails" was sitting up for them, and she had something to
say. She let go a perfect storm of general denunciation, then narrowed
the attack to Samuel Clemens as the oldest of the party. He remained
mildly serene.

"It wasn't my fault," he ventured at last; "it was Billy Gillis's fault."

"No such thing. You know better. Mr. Gillis has been here often. It
was you."

"But do you realize, ma'am, how tired and hungry we are? Haven't you got
a bite for us to eat?"

"No, sir, not a bite--for such as you."

The offender's eyes, wandering about the room, spied something in a
corner.

"Isn't that a guitar over there?" he asked.

"Yes, sir, it is; what of it?"

The culprit walked over, and taking it up, tuned the strings a little and
struck the chords. Then he began to sing. He began very softly and sang
"Fly Away, Pretty Moth," then "Araby's Daughter." He could sing very
well in those days, following with the simpler chords. Perhaps the
mother "Quail" had known those songs herself back in the States, for her
manner grew kindlier, almost with the first notes. When he had finished
she was the first to ask him to go on.

"I suppose you are just like all young folks," she said. "I was young
myself once. While you sing I'll get some supper."

She left the door to the kitchen open so that she could hear, and cooked
whatever she could find for the belated party.




XLIX

THE JUMPING FROG

It was the rainy season, the winter of 1864 and 1865, but there were many
pleasant days, when they could go pocket-hunting, and Samuel Clemens soon
added a knowledge of this fascinating science to his other acquirements.
Sometimes he worked with Dick Stoker, sometimes with one of the Gillis
boys. He did not make his fortune at pocket-mining; he only laid its
corner-stone. In the old note-book he kept of that sojourn we find that,
with Jim Gillis, he made a trip over into Calaveras County soon after
Christmas and remained there until after New Year's, probably
prospecting; and he records that on New Year's night, at Vallecito, he
saw a magnificent lunar rainbow in a very light, drizzling rain. A lunax
rainbow is one of the things people seldom see. He thought it an omen of
good-fortune.

They returned to the cabin on the hill; but later in the month, on the
they crossed over into Calaveras again, and began pocket-hunting not far
from Angel's Camp. The note-book records that the bill of fare at the
Camp hotel consisted wholly of beans and something which bore the name of
coffee; also that the rains were frequent and heavy.

    January 27. Same old diet--same old weather--went out to the
    pocket-claim--had to rush back.

They had what they believed to be a good claim. Jim Gillis declared the
indications promising, and if they could only have good weather to work
it, they were sure of rich returns. For himself, he would have been
willing to work, rain or shine. Clemens, however, had different views on
the subject. His part was carrying water for washing out the pans of
dirt, and carrying pails of water through the cold rain and mud was not
very fascinating work. Dick Stoker came over before long to help. Things
went a little better then; but most of their days were spent in the
bar-room of the dilapidated tavern at Angel's Camp, enjoying the company
of a former Illinois River pilot, Ben Coon,--[This name has been
variously given as "Ros Coon," "Coon Drayton," etc. It is given here as
set down in Mark Twain's notes, made on the spot. Coon was not (as has
been stated) the proprietor of the hotel (which was kept by a Frenchman),
but a frequenter of it.]--a solemn, fat-witted person, who dozed by the
stove, or old slow, endless stories, without point or application.
Listeners were a boon to him, for few came and not many would stay. To
Mark Twain and Jim Gillis, however, Ben Coon was a delight. It was
soothing and comfortable to listen to his endless narratives, told in
that solemn way, with no suspicion of humor. Even when his yarns had
point, he did not recognize it. One dreary afternoon, in his slow,
monotonous fashion, he told them about a frog--a frog that had belonged
to a man named Coleman, who trained it to jump, but that failed to win a
wager because the owner of a rival frog had surreptitiously loaded the
trained jumper with shot. The story had circulated among the camps, and
a well-known journalist, named Samuel Seabough, had already made a squib
of it, but neither Clemens nor Gillis had ever happened to hear it
before. They thought the tale in itself amusing, and the "spectacle of a
man drifting serenely along through such a queer yarn without ever
smiling was exquisitely absurd." When Coon had talked himself out, his
hearers played billiards on the frowsy table, and now and then one would
remark to the other:

"I don't see no p'ints about that frog that's any better'n any other
frog," and perhaps the other would answer:

"I ain't got no frog, but if I had a frog I'd bet you."

Out on the claim, between pails of water, Clemens, as he watched Jim
Gillis or Dick Stoker "washing," would be apt to say, "I don't see no
p'ints about that pan o' dirt that's any better'n any other pan o' dirt,"
and so they kept it up.

Then the rain would come again and interfere with their work. One
afternoon, when Clemens and Gillis were following certain tiny-sprayed
specks of gold that were leading them to pocket--somewhere up the long
slope, the chill downpour set in. Gillis, as usual, was washing, and
Clemens carrying water. The "color" was getting better with every pan,
and Jim Gillis believed that now, after their long waiting, they were to
be rewarded. Possessed with the miner's passion, he would have gone on
washing and climbing toward the precious pocket, regardless of
everything. Clemens, however, shivering and disgusted, swore that each
pail of water was his last. His teeth were chattering and he was wet
through. Finally he said, in his deliberate way:

"Jim, I won't carry any more water. This work is too disagreeable."

Gillis had just taken out a panful of dirt.

"Bring one more pail, Sam," he pleaded.

"Oh, hell, Jim, I won't do it; I'm freezing!"

"Just one more pail, Sam," he pleaded.

"No, sir, not a drop, not if I knew there were a million dollars in that
pan."

Gillis tore a page out of his note-book, and hastily posted a thirty-day
claim notice by the pan of dirt, and they set out for Angel's Camp. It
kept on raining and storming, and they did not go back. A few days later
a letter from Steve Gillis made Clemens decide to return to San
Francisco. With Jim Gillis and Dick Stoker he left Angel's and walked
across the mountains to Jackass Hill in the snow-storm--"the first I ever
saw in California," he says in his notes.

In the mean time the rain had washed away the top of the pan of earth
they had left standing on the hillside, and exposed a handful of
nuggets-pure gold. Two strangers, Austrians, had come along and,
observing it, had sat down to wait until the thirty-day claim notice
posted by Jim Gillis should expire. They did not mind the rain--not with
all that gold in sight--and the minute the thirty days were up they
followed the lead a few pans farther and took out--some say ten, some say
twenty, thousand dollars. In either case it was a good pocket. Mark
Twain missed it by one pail of water. Still, it is just as well,
perhaps, when one remembers that vaster nugget of Angel's Camp--the
Jumping Frog. Jim Gillis always declared, "If Sam had got that pocket he
would have remained a pocket-miner to the end of his days, like me."

In Mark Twain's old note-book occurs a memorandum of the frog story--a
mere casual entry of its main features:

    Coleman with his jumping frog--bet stranger $50--stranger had no
    frog, and C. got him one:--in the mean time stranger filled C.'s
    frog full of shot and he couldn't jump. The stranger's frog won.

It seemed unimportant enough, no doubt, at the time; but it was the
nucleus around which was built a surpassing fame. The hills along the
Stanislaus have turned out some wonderful nuggets in their time, but no
other of such size as that.




L

BACK TO THE TUMULT

FROM the note-book:

    February 25. Arrived in Stockton 5 p.m. Home again home again at
    the Occidental Hotel, San Francisco--find letters from Artemus Ward
    asking me to write a sketch for his new book of Nevada Territory
    Travels which is soon to come out. Too late--ought to have got the
    letters three months ago. They are dated early in November.

He was sorry not to oblige Ward, sorry also not to have representation in
his book. He wrote explaining the circumstance, and telling the story of
his absence. Steve Gillis, meantime, had returned to San Francisco, and
settled his difficulties there. The friends again took up residence
together.

Mark Twain resumed his daily letters to the Enterprise, without further
annoyance from official sources. Perhaps there was a temporary truce in
that direction, though he continued to attack various abuses--civic,
private, and artistic--becoming a sort of general censor, establishing
for himself the title of the "Moralist of the Main." The letters were
reprinted in San Francisco and widely read. Now and then some one had
the temerity to answer them, but most of his victims maintained a
discreet silence. In one of these letters he told of the Mexican oyster,
a rather tough, unsatisfactory article of diet, which could not stand
criticism, and presently disappeared from the market. It was a mistake,
however, for him to attack an Alta journalist by the name of Evans. Evans
was a poet, and once composed an elegy with a refrain which ended:

       Gone, gone, gone
       --Gone to his endeavor;
       Gone, gone, gone,
       Forever and forever.

In the Enterprise letter following its publication Mark Twain referred to
this poem. He parodied the refrain and added, "If there is any criticism
to make on it I should say there is a little too much 'gone' and not
enough 'forever.'"

It was a more or less pointless witticism, but it had a humorous quotable
flavor, and it made Evans mad. In a squib in the Alta he retaliated:

    Mark Twain has killed the Mexican oyster. We only regret that the
    act was not inspired by a worthier motive. Mark Twain's sole reason
    for attacking the Mexican oyster was because the restaurant that
    sold them refused him credit.

A deadly thrust like that could not be parried in print. To deny or
recriminate would be to appear ridiculous. One could only sweat and
breathe vengeance.

"Joe," he said to Goodman, who had come over for a visit, "my one object
in life now is to make enough money to stand trial and then go and murder
Evans."

He wrote verses himself sometimes, and lightened his Enterprise letters
with jingles. One of these concerned Tom Maguire, the autocrat manager
of San Francisco theaters. It details Maguire's assault on one of his
actors.

       Tom Maguire,
       Roused to ire,
       Lighted on McDougal;
       Tore his coat,
       Clutched his throat,
       And split him in the bugle.

       For shame! oh, fie!
       Maguire, why
       Will you thus skyugle?
       Why curse and swear,
       And rip and tear
       The innocent McDougal?

       Of bones bereft,
       Almost, you've left
       Vestvali, gentle Jew gal;
       And now you've smashed
       And almost hashed
       The form of poor McDougall

Goodman remembers that Clemens and Gillis were together again on
California Street at this time, and of hearing them sing, "The Doleful
Ballad of the Rejected Lover," another of Mark Twain's compositions. It
was a wild, blasphemous outburst, and the furious fervor with which Mark
and Steve delivered it, standing side by side and waving their fists, did
not render it less objectionable. Such memories as these are set down
here, for they exhibit a phase of that robust personality, built of the
same primeval material from which the world was created--built of every
variety of material, in fact, ever incorporated in a human being--equally
capable of writing unprintable coarseness and that rarest and most tender
of all characterizations, the 'Recollections of JOAN of ARC'.




LI

THE CORNER-STONE

Along with his Enterprise work, Clemens continued to write occasionally
for the Californian, but for some reason he did not offer the story of
the jumping frog. For one thing, he did not regard it highly as literary
material. He knew that he had enjoyed it himself, but the humor and
fashion of its telling seemed to him of too simple and mild a variety in
that day of boisterous incident and exaggerated form. By and by Artemus
Ward turned up in San Francisco, and one night Mark Twain told him his
experiences with Jim Gillis, and in Angel's Camp; also of Ben Coon and
his tale of the Calaveras frog. Ward was delighted.

"Write it," he said. "There is still time to get it into my volume of
sketches. Send it to Carleton, my publisher in New York."--[This is in
accordance with Mr. Clemens's recollection of the matter. The author can
find no positive evidence that Ward was on the Pacific coast again in
1865. It seems likely, therefore, that the telling of the frog story and
his approval of it were accomplished by exchange of letters.]--Clemens
promised to do this, but delayed fulfilment somewhat, and by the time the
sketch reached Carleton, Ward's book was about ready for the press. It
did not seem worth while to Carleton to make any change of plans that
would include the frog story. The publisher handed it over to Henry
Clapp, editor of the Saturday Press, a perishing sheet, saying: "Here,
Clapp, here's something you can use in your paper." Clapp took it
thankfully enough, we may believe.

"Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog"--[This was the original title.]
--appeared in the Saturday Press of November 18, 1865, and was
immediately copied and quoted far and near. It brought the name of Mark
Twain across the mountains, bore it up and down the Atlantic coast, and
out over the prairies of the Middle West. Away from the Pacific slope
only a reader here and there had known the name before. Now every one
who took a newspaper was treated to the tale of the wonderful Calaveras
frog, and received a mental impress of the author's signature. The name
Mark Twain became hardly an institution, as yet, but it made a strong bid
for national acceptance.

As for its owner, he had no suspicion of these momentous happenings for a
considerable time. The telegraph did not carry such news in those days,
and it took a good while for the echo of his victory to travel to the
Coast. When at last a lagging word of it did arrive, it would seem to
have brought disappointment, rather than exaltation, to the author. Even
Artemus Ward's opinion of the story had not increased Mark Twain's regard
for it as literature. That it had struck the popular note meant, as he
believed, failure for his more highly regarded work. In a letter written
January 20, 1866, he says these things for himself:

    I do not know what to write; my life is so uneventful. I wish I was
    back there piloting up and down the river again. Verily, all is
    vanity and little worth--save piloting.

    To think that, after writing many an article a man might be excused
    for thinking tolerably good, those New York people should single out
    a villainous backwoods sketch to compliment me on! "Jim Smiley and
    His Jumping Frog"--a squib which would never have been written but
    to please Artemus Ward, and then it reached New York too late to
    appear in his book.

    But no matter. His book was a wretchedly poor one, generally
    speaking, and it could be no credit to either of us to appear
    between its covers.

This paragraph is from the New York correspondence of the San Francisco
Alta:

    "Mark Twain's story in the Saturday Press of November 18th, called
    'Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,' has set all New York in a roar,
    and he may be said to have made his mark. I have been asked fifty
    times about it and its author, and the papers are copying it far and
    near. It is voted the best thing of the day. Cannot the
    'Californian' afford to keep Mark all to itself? It should not let
    him scintillate so widely without first being filtered through the
    California press."

    The New York publishing house of Carleton & Co. gave the sketch to
    the Saturday Press when they found it was too late for the book.

It is difficult to judge the jumping Frog story to-day. It has the
intrinsic fundamental value of one of AEsop's Fables.--[The resemblance
of the frog story to the early Greek tales must have been noted by Prof.
Henry Sidgwick, who synopsized it in Greek form and phrase for his book,
Greek Prose Composition. Through this originated the impression that the
story was of Athenian root. Mark Twain himself was deceived, until in
1899, when he met Professor Sidgwick, who explained that the Greek
version was the translation and Mark Twain's the original; that he had
thought it unnecessary to give credit for a story so well known. See The
Jumping Frog, Harper & Bros., 1903, p. 64.]--It contains a basic idea
which is essentially ludicrous, and the quaint simplicity of its telling
is convincing and full of charm. It appeared in print at a time when
American humor was chaotic, the public taste unformed. We had a vast
appreciation for what was comic, with no great number of opportunities
for showing it. We were so ready to laugh that when a real opportunity
came along we improved it and kept on laughing and repeating the cause of
our merriment, directing the attention of our friends to it. Whether the
story of "Jim Smiley's Frog," offered for the first time today, would
capture the public, and become the initial block of a towering fame, is
another matter. That the author himself underrated it is certain. That
the public, receiving it at what we now term the psychological moment,
may have overrated it is by no means impossible. In any case, it does
not matter now. The stone rejected by the builder was made the
corner-stone of his literary edifice. As such it is immortal.

In the letter already quoted, Clemens speaks of both Bret Harte and
himself as having quit the 'Californian' in future expecting to write for
Eastern papers. He adds:

    Though I am generally placed at the head of my breed of scribblers
    in this part of the country, the place properly belongs to Bret
    Harte, I think, though he denies it, along with the rest. He wants
    me to club a lot of old sketches together with a lot of his, and
    publish a book. I wouldn't do it, only he agrees to take all the
    trouble. But I want to know whether we are going to make anything
    out of it, first. However, he has written to a New York publisher,
    and if we are offered a bargain that will pay for a month's labor we
    will go to work and prepare the volume for the press.

Nothing came of the proposed volume, or of other joint literary schemes
these two had then in mind. Neither of them would seem to have been
optimistic as to their future place in American literature; certainly in
their most exalted moments they could hardly have dreamed that within
half a dozen years they would be the head and front of a new school of
letters--the two most talked-of men in America.




LII

A COMMISSION TO THE SANDWICH ISLANDS

Whatever his first emotions concerning the success of "Jim Smiley's Frog"
may have been, the sudden astonishing leap of that batrachian into
American literature gave the author an added prestige at home as well as
in distant parts. Those about him were inclined to regard him, in some
degree at least, as a national literary figure and to pay tribute
accordingly. Special honors began to be shown to him. A fine new
steamer, the Ajax, built for the Sandwich Island trade, carried on its
initial trip a select party of guests of which he was invited to make
one. He did not go, and reproached himself sorrowfully afterward.

If the Ajax were back I would go quick, and throw up my correspondence.
She had fifty-two invited guests aboard--the cream of the town--gentlemen
and ladies, and a splendid brass band. I could not accept because there
would be no one to write my correspondence while I was gone.

In fact, the daily letter had grown monotonous. He was restless, and the
Ajax excursion, which he had been obliged to forego, made him still more
dissatisfied. An idea occurred to him: the sugar industry of the islands
was a matter of great commercial interest to California, while the life
and scenery there, picturesquely treated, would appeal to the general
reader. He was on excellent terms with James Anthony and Paul Morrill,
of the Sacramento Union; he proposed to them that they send him as their
special correspondent to report to their readers, in a series of letters,
life, trade, agriculture, and general aspect of the islands. To his vast
delight, they gave him the commission. He wrote home joyously now:

I am to remain there a month and ransack the islands, the cataracts and
volcanoes completely, and write twenty or thirty letters, for which they
pay as much money as I would get if I stayed at home.

He adds that on his return he expects to start straight across the
continent by way of the Columbia River, the Pend Oreille Lakes, through
Montana and down the Missouri River. "Only two hundred miles of land
travel from San Francisco to New Orleans."

So it is: man proposes, while fate, undisturbed, spins serenely on.

He sailed by the Ajax on her next trip, March 7 (1866), beginning his
first sea voyage--a brand-new experience, during which he acquired the
names of the sails and parts of the ship, with considerable knowledge of
navigation, and of the islands he was to visit--whatever information
passengers and sailors could furnish. It was a happy, stormy voyage
altogether. In 'Roughing It' he has given us some account of it.

It was the 18th of March when he arrived at Honolulu, and his first
impression of that tranquil harbor remained with him always. In fact,
his whole visit there became one of those memory-pictures, full of golden
sunlight and peace, to be found somewhere in every human past.

The letters of introduction he had brought, and the reputation which had
preceded him, guaranteed him welcome and hospitality. Officials and
private citizens were alike ready to show him their pleasant land, and he
fairly reveled in its delicious air, its summer warmth, its soft repose.

    Oh, islands there are on the face of the deep
    Where the leaves never fade and the skies never weep,

he quotes in his note-book, and adds:

    Went with Mr. Damon to his cool, vine-shaded home; no careworn or
    eager, anxious faces in this land of happy contentment. God, what a
    contrast with California and the Washoe!

And in another place:

    They live in the S. I.--no rush, no worry--merchant goes down to his
    store like a gentleman at nine--goes home at four and thinks no more
    of business till next day. D--n San F. style of wearing out life.

He fitted in with the languorous island existence, but he had come for
business, and he lost not much time. He found there a number of friends
from Washoe, including the Rev. Mr. Rising, whose health had failed from
overwork. By their direction, and under official guidance, he set out on
Oahu, one of the several curious horses he has immortalized in print,
and, accompanied by a pleasant party of ladies and gentlemen, encircled
the island of that name, crossed it and recrossed it, visited its various
battle-fields, returning to Honolulu, lame, sore, sunburnt, but
triumphant. His letters home, better even than his Union correspondence,
reveal his personal interest and enthusiasms.

    I have got a lot of human bones which I took from one of these
    battle-fields. I guess I will bring you some of them. I went with
    the American Minister and took dinner this evening with the King's
    Grand Chamberlain, who is related to the royal family, and though
    darker than a mulatto he has an excellent English education, and in
    manners is an accomplished gentleman. He is to call for me in the
    morning; we will visit the King in the palace, After dinner they
    called in the "singing girls," and we had some beautiful music, sung
    in the native tongue.

It was his first association with royalty, and it was human that he
should air it a little. In the same letter he states: "I will sail in a
day or two on a tour of the other islands, to be gone two months."

'In Roughing It' he has given us a picture of his visits to the islands,
their plantations, their volcanoes, their natural and historic wonders.
He was an insatiable sight-seer then, and a persevering one. The very
name of a new point of interest filled him with an eager enthusiasm to be
off. No discomfort or risk or distance discouraged him. With a single
daring companion--a man who said he could find the way--he crossed the
burning floor of the mighty crater of Kilauea (then in almost constant
eruption), racing across the burning lava floor, jumping wide and
bottomless crevices, when a misstep would have meant death.

By and by Marlette shouted "Stop!" I never stopped quicker in my life. I
asked what the matter was. He said we were out of the path. He said we
must not try to go on until we found it again, for we were surrounded
with beds of rotten lava, through which we could easily break and plunge
down 1,000 feet. I thought Boo would answer for me, and was about to say
so, when Marlette partly proved his statement, crushing through and
disappearing to his arm-pits.

They made their way across at last, and stood the rest of the night
gazing down upon a spectacle of a crater in quivering action, a veritable
lake of fire. They had risked their lives for that scene, but it seemed
worth while.

His open-air life on the river, and the mining camps, had prepared Samuel
Clemens for adventurous hardships. He was thirty years old, with his
full account of mental and physical capital. His growth had been slow,
but he was entering now upon his golden age; he was fitted for conquest
of whatever sort, and he was beginning to realize his power.




LIII

ANSON BURLINGAME AND THE "HORNET" DISASTER

It was near the end of June when he returned to Honolulu from a tour of
all the islands, fairly worn out and prostrated with saddle boils. He
expected only to rest and be quiet for a season, but all unknown to him
startling and historic things were taking place in which he was to have a
part--events that would mark another forward stride in his career.

The Ajax had just come in, bringing his Excellency Anson Burlingame, then
returning to his post as minister to China; also General Van Valkenburg,
minister to Japan; Colonel Rumsey and Minister Burlingame's son, Edward,
--[Edward L. Burlingame, now for many years editor of Scribner's
Magazine.]--then a lively boy of eighteen. Young Burlingame had read
"The Jumping Frog," and was enthusiastic about Mark Twain and his work.
Learning that he was in Honolulu, laid up at his hotel, the party sent
word that they would call on him next morning.

Clemens felt that he must not accept this honor, sick or well. He
crawled out of bed, dressed and shaved himself as quickly as possible,
and drove to the American minister's, where the party was staying. They
had a hilariously good time. When he returned to his hotel he sent them,
by request, whatever he had on hand of his work. General Van Valkenburg
had said to him:

"California is proud of Mark Twain, and some day the American people will
be, too, no doubt."

There has seldom been a more accurate prophecy.

But a still greater event was imminent. On that very day (June 21, 1866)
there came word of the arrival at Sanpahoe, on the island of Hawaii, of
an open boat containing fifteen starving wretches, who on short, ten-day
rations had been buffeting a stormy sea for forty-three days! A vessel,
the Hornet, from New York, had taken fire and burned "on the line," and
since early in May, on that meager sustenance, they had been battling
with hundreds of leagues of adverse billows, seeking for land.

A few days following the first report, eleven of the rescued men were
brought to Honolulu and placed in the hospital. Mark Twain recognized
the great news importance of the event. It would be a splendid beat if
he could interview the castaways and be the first to get their story to
his paper. There was no cable in those days; a vessel for San Francisco
would sail next morning. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and he
must not miss it. Bedridden as he was, the undertaking seemed beyond his
strength.

But just at this time the Burlingame party descended on him, and almost
before he knew it he was on the way to the hospital on a cot, escorted by
the heads of the joint legations of China and Japan. Once there, Anson
Burlingame, with his splendid human sympathy and handsome, courtly
presence, drew from those enfeebled castaways all the story of their long
privation and struggle, that had stretched across forty-three distempered
days and four thousand miles of sea. All that Mark Twain had to do was
to listen and make the notes.

He put in the night-writing against time. Next morning, just as the
vessel for the States was drifting away from her dock, a strong hand
flung his bulky envelope of manuscript aboard, and if the vessel arrived
his great beat was sure. It did arrive, and the three-column story on
the front page of the Sacramento Union, in its issue of July 19th, gave
the public the first detailed history of the terrible Hornet disaster and
the rescue of those starving men. Such a story occupied a wider place in
the public interest than it would in these crowded days. The telegraph
carried it everywhere, and it was featured as a sensation.

Mark Twain always adored the name and memory of Anson Burlingame. In his
letter home he tells of Burlingame's magnanimity in "throwing away an
invitation to dine with princes and foreign dignitaries" to help him.
"You know I appreciate that kind of thing," he says; which was a true
statement, and in future years he never missed an opportunity of paying
an instalment on his debt of gratitude. It was proper that he should do
so, for the obligation was a far greater one than that contracted in
obtaining the tale of the Hornet disaster. It was the debt which one
owes to a man who, from the deep measure of his understanding, gives
encouragement and exactly needed and convincing advice. Anson Burlingame
said to Samuel Clemens:

"You have great ability; I believe you have genius. What you need now is
the refinement of association. Seek companionship among men of superior
intellect and character. Refine yourself and your work. Never affiliate
with inferiors; always climb."

Clemens never forgot that advice. He did not always observe it, but he
rarely failed to realize its gospel. Burlingame urged him to travel.

"Come to Pekin next winter," he said, "and visit me. Make my house your
home. I will give you letters and introduce you. You will have
facilities for acquiring information about China."

It is not surprising then that Mark Twain never felt his debt to Anson
Burlingame entirely paid. Burlingame came more than once to the hotel,
for Clemens was really ill now, and they discussed plans for his future
betterment.

He promised, of course, to visit China, and when he was alone put in a
good deal of time planning a trip around the world which would include
the great capitals. When not otherwise employed he read; though there
was only one book in the hotel, a "blue and gold" edition of Dr. Holmes's
Songs in Many Keys, and this he soon knew almost by heart, from
title-page to finis.

He was soon up and about. No one could remain ill long in those happy
islands. Young Burlingame came, and suggested walks. Once, when Clemens
hesitated, the young man said:

"But there is a Scriptural command for you to go."

"If you can quote one I'll obey it," said Clemens.

"Very well. The Bible says, 'If any man require thee to walk a mile, go
with him, Twain.'"

The command was regarded as sufficient. Clemens quoted the witticism
later (in his first lecture), and it was often repeated in after-years,
ascribed to Warner, Ward, and a dozen others. Its origin was as here set
down.

Under date of July 4 (1866), Mark Twain's Sandwich Island note-book says:

    Went to a ball 8.30 P.M.--danced till 12.30; stopped at General Van
    Valkenburg's room and talked with him and Mr. Burlingame and Ed
    Burlingame until 3 A.M.

From which we may conclude that he had altogether recovered. A few days
later the legation party had sailed for China and Japan, and on the
19th Clemens himself set out by a slow sailing-vessel to San Francisco.
They were becalmed and were twenty-five days making the voyage. Captain
Mitchell and others of the wrecked Hornet were aboard, and he put in a
good deal of time copying their diaries and preparing a magazine article
which, he believed, would prove his real entrance to the literary world.

The vessel lay almost perfectly still, day after day, and became a
regular playground at sea. Sundays they had services and Mark Twain led
the choir.

"I hope they will have a better opinion of our music in heaven than I
have down here," he says in his notes. "If they don't, a thunderbolt
will knock this vessel endways." It is perhaps worthy of mention that on
the night of the 27th of July he records having seen another "splendidly
colored, lunar rainbow." That he regarded this as an indication of
future good-fortune is not surprising, considering the events of the
previous year.

It was August 13th when he reached San Francisco, and the note-book entry
of that day says:

    Home again. No--not home again--in prison again, end all the wild
    sense of freedom gone. The city seems so cramped and so dreary with
    toil and care and business anxiety. God help me, I wish I were at
    sea again!

There were compensations, however. He went over to Sacramento, and was
abundantly welcomed. It was agreed that, in addition to the twenty
dollars allowed for each letter, a special bill should be made for the
Hornet report.

"How much do you think it ought to be, Mark?" James Anthony asked.

"Oh, I'm a modest man; I don't want the whole Union office. Call it $100
a column."

There was a general laugh. The bill was made out at that figure, and he
took it to the business office for payment.

"The cashier didn't faint," he wrote, many years later, "but he came
rather near it. He sent for the proprietors, and they only laughed in
their jolly fashion, and said it was a robbery, but 'no matter, pay it.
It's all right.' The best men that ever owned a newspaper."--["My Debut
as a Literary Person."--Collected works.]--Though inferior to the
descriptive writing which a year later would give him a world-wide fame,
the Sandwich Island letters added greatly to his prestige on the Pacific
coast. They were convincing, informing; tersely--even
eloquently--descriptive, with a vein of humor adapted to their audience.
Yet to read them now, in the fine nonpareil type in which they were set,
is such a wearying task that one can only marvel at their popularity.
They were not brilliant literature, by our standards to-day. Their humor
is usually of a muscular kind, varied with grotesque exaggerations; the
literary quality is pretty attenuated. Here and there are attempts at
verse. He had a fashion in those days of combining two or more poems
with distracting, sometimes amusing, effect. Examples of these
dislocations occur in the Union letters; a single stanza will present the
general idea:

    The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold,

    The turf with their bayonets turning,
    And his cohorts were gleaming with purple and gold,
    And our lanterns dimly burning.

Only a trifling portion of the letters found their way into his Sandwich
Island chapters of 'Roughing It', five years later. They do, however,
reveal a sort of transition stage between the riotous florescence of the
Comstock and the mellowness of his later style. He was learning to see
things with better eyes, from a better point of view. It is not
difficult to believe that this literary change of heart was in no small
measure due to the influence of Anson Burlingame.






MARK TWAIN, A BIOGRAPHY

By Albert Bigelow Paine



VOLUME I, Part 2: 1866-1875



LIV


THE LECTURER

It was not easy to take up the daily struggle again, but it was
necessary.--[Clemens once declared he had been so blue at this period
that one morning he put a loaded pistol to his head, but found he lacked
courage to pull the trigger.]--Out of the ruck of possibilities (his
brain always thronged with plans) he constructed three or four resolves.
The chief of these was the trip around the world; but that lay months
ahead, and in the mean time ways and means must be provided. Another
intention was to finish the Hornet article, and forward it to Harper's
Magazine--a purpose carried immediately into effect. To his delight the
article found acceptance, and he looked forward to the day of its
publication as the beginning of a real career. He intended to follow it
up with a series on the islands, which in due time might result in a book
and an income. He had gone so far as to experiment with a dedication for
the book--an inscription to his mother, modified later for use in 'The
Innocents Abroad'. A third plan of action was to take advantage of the
popularity of the Hawaiian letters, and deliver a lecture on the same
subject. But this was a fearsome prospect--he trembled when he thought
of it. As Governor of the Third House he had been extravagantly received
and applauded, but in that case the position of public entertainer had
been thrust upon him. To come forward now, offering himself in the same
capacity, was a different matter. He believed he could entertain, but he
lacked the courage to declare himself; besides, it meant a risk of his
slender capital. He confided his situation to Col. John McComb, of the
Alta California, and was startled by McComb's vigorous endorsement.

"Do it, by all means!" urged McComb. "It will be a grand success--I know
it! Take the largest house in town, and charge a dollar a ticket."

Frightened but resolute, he went to the leading theater manager the same
Tom Maguire of his verses--and was offered the new opera-house at half
rates. The next day this advertisement appeared:

                MAGUIRE'S ACADEMY OF MUSIC
               PINE STREET, NEAR MONTGOMERY

                  THE SANDWICH ISLANDS

                      MARK TWAIN

        (HONOLULU CORRESPONDENT OF THE SACRAMENTO UNION)
                    WILL DELIVER A
              LECTURE ON THE SANDWICH ISLANDS

                AT THE ACADEMY OF MUSIC
               ON TUESDAY EVENING, OCT. 2d
                       (1866)

 In which passing mention will be made of Harris, Bishop Staley, the
American missionaries, etc., and the absurd customs and characteristics
  of the natives duly discussed and described. The great volcano of
         Kilauea will also receive proper attention.

                  A SPLENDID ORCHESTRA
            is in town, but has not been engaged
                       ALSO
               A DEN OF FEROCIOUS WILD BEASTS
           will be on exhibition in the next block
                  MAGNIFICENT FIREWORKS
were in contemplation for this occasion, but the idea has been abandoned
               A GRAND TORCHLIGHT PROCESSION
 may be expected; in fact, the public are privileged to expect whatever
                     they please.

           Dress Circle, $1.00  Family Circle, 50c
    Doors open at 7 o'clock  The Trouble to begin at 8 o'clock

The story of that first lecture, as told in Roughing It, is a faithful
one, and need only be summarized here.

Expecting to find the house empty, he found it packed from the footlights
to the walls. Sidling out from the wings--wobbly-kneed and dry of
tongue--he was greeted by a murmur, a roar, a very crash of applause that
frightened away his remaining vestiges of courage. Then, came reaction
--these were his friends, and he began to talk to them. Fear melted
away, and as tide after tide of applause rose and billowed and came
breaking at his feet, he knew something of the exaltation of Monte Cristo
when he declared "The world is mine!"

It was a vast satisfaction to have succeeded. It was particularly
gratifying at this time, for he dreaded going back into newspaper
harness. Also; it softened later the disappointment resulting from
another venture; for when the December Harper appeared, with his article,
the printer and proof-reader had somehow converted Mark Twain into "Mark
Swain," and his literary dream perished.

As to the literary value of his lecture, it was much higher than had,
been any portion of his letters, if we may judge from its few remaining
fragments. One of these--a part of the description of the great volcano
Haleakala, on the island of Maui--is a fair example of his eloquence.

It is somewhat more florid than his later description of the same scene
in Roughing It, which it otherwise resembles; and we may imagine that its
poetry, with the added charm of its delivery, held breathless his
hearers, many of whom believed that no purer eloquence had ever been
uttered or written.

It is worth remembering, too, that in this lecture, delivered so long
ago, he advocated the idea of American ownership of these islands,
dwelling at considerable length on his reasons for this ideal.

--[For fragmentary extracts from this first lecture of Mark Twain and
news comment, see Appendix D, end of last volume.]--There was a gross
return from his venture of more than $1,200, but with his usual business
insight, which was never foresight, he had made an arrangement by which,
after paying bills and dividing with his manager, he had only about
one-third of, this sum left. Still, even this was prosperity and
triumph. He had acquired a new and lucrative profession at a bound. The
papers lauded him as the "most piquant and humorous writer and lecturer
on the Coast since the days of the lamented John Phoenix." He felt that
he was on the highroad at last.

Denis McCarthy, late of the Enterprise, was in San Francisco, and was
willing to become his manager. Denis was capable and honest, and Clemens
was fond of him. They planned a tour of the near-by towns, beginning
with Sacramento, extending it later even to the mining camps, such as Red
Dog and Grass Valley; also across into Nevada, with engagements at Carson
City, Virginia, and Gold Hill. It was an exultant and hilarious
excursion--that first lecture tour made by Denis McCarthy and Mark Twain.
Success traveled with them everywhere, whether the lecturer looked across
the footlights of some pretentious "opera-house" or between the two
tallow candles of some camp "academy." Whatever the building, it was
packed, and the returns were maximum.

Those who remember him as a lecturer in that long-ago time say that his
delivery was more quaint, his drawl more exaggerated, even than in later
life; that his appearance and movements on the stage were natural, rather
than graceful; that his manuscript, which he carried under his arm,
looked like a ruffled hen. It was, in fact, originally written on sheets
of manila paper, in large characters, so that it could be read easily by
dim light, and it was doubtless often disordered.

There was plenty of amusing experience on this tour. At one place, when
the lecture was over, an old man came to him and said:

"Be them your natural tones of eloquence?"

At Grass Valley there was a rival show, consisting of a lady tight-rope
walker and her husband. It was a small place, and the tight-rope
attraction seemed likely to fail. The lady's husband had formerly been a
compositor on the Enterprise, so that he felt there was a bond of
brotherhood between him and Mark Twain.

"Look here," he said. "Let's combine our shows. I'll let my wife do the
tight-rope act outside and draw a crowd, and you go inside and lecture."

The arrangement was not made.

Following custom, the lecturer at first thought it necessary to be
introduced, and at each place McCarthy had to skirmish around and find
the proper person. At Red Dog, on the Stanislaus, the man selected
failed to appear, and Denis had to provide another on short notice. He
went down into the audience and captured an old fellow, who ducked and
dodged but could not escape. Denis led him to the stage, a good deal
frightened.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "this is the celebrated Mark Twain from
the celebrated city of San Francisco, with his celebrated lecture about
the celebrated Sandwich Islands."

That was as far as he could go; but it was far enough. Mark Twain never
had a better introduction. The audience was in a shouting humor from the
start.

Clemens himself used to tell of an introduction at another camp, where
his sponsor said:

"Ladies and gentlemen, I know only two things about this man: the first
is that he's never been in jail, and the second is I don't know why."

But this is probably apocryphal; there is too much "Mark Twain" in it.

When he reached Virginia, Goodman said to him:

"Sam, you do not need anybody to introduce you. There's a piano on the
stage in the theater. Have it brought out in sight, and when the curtain
rises you be seated at the piano, playing and singing that song of yours,
'I Had an Old Horse Whose Name Was Methusalem,' and don't seem to notice
that the curtain is up at first; then be surprised when you suddenly find
out that it is up, and begin talking, without any further preliminaries."

This proved good advice, and the lecture, thus opened, started off with
general hilarity and applause.




LV

HIGHWAY ROBBERY

His Nevada, lectures were bound to be immensely successful. The people
regarded him as their property over there, and at Carson and Virginia the
houses overflowed. At Virginia especially his friends urged and begged
him to repeat the entertainment, but he resolutely declined.

"I have only one lecture yet," he said. "I cannot bring myself to give
it twice in the same town."

But that irresponsible imp, Steve Gillis, who was again in Virginia,
conceived a plan which would make it not only necessary for him to
lecture again, but would supply him with a subject. Steve's plan was
very simple: it was to relieve the lecturer of his funds by a friendly
highway robbery, and let an account of the adventure furnish the new
lecture.

In 'Roughing It' Mark Twain has given a version of this mock robbery
which is correct enough as far as it goes; but important details are
lacking. Only a few years ago (it was April, 1907), in his cabin on
jackass Hill, with Joseph Goodman and the writer of this history present,
Steve Gillis made his "death-bed" confession as is here set down:

"Mark's lecture was given in Piper's Opera House, October 30, 1866. The
Virginia City people had heard many famous lectures before, but they were
mere sideshows compared with Mark's. It could have been run to crowded
houses for a week. We begged him to give the common people a chance; but
he refused to repeat himself. He was going down to Carson, and was
coming back to talk in Gold Hill about a week later, and his agent, Denis
McCarthy, and I laid a plan to have him robbed on the Divide between Gold
Hill and Virginia, after the Gold Hill lecture was over and he and Denis
would be coming home with the money. The Divide was a good lonely place,
and was famous for its hold-ups. We got City Marshal George Birdsall
into it with us, and took in Leslie Blackburn, Pat Holland, Jimmy
Eddington, and one or two more of Sam's old friends. We all loved him,
and would have fought for him in a moment. That's the kind of friends
Mark had in Nevada. If he had any enemies I never heard of them.

"We didn't take in Dan de Quille, or Joe here, because Sam was Joe's
guest, and we were afraid he would tell him. We didn't take in Dan
because we wanted him to write it up as a genuine robbery and make a big
sensation. That would pack the opera-house at two dollars a seat to hear
Mark tell the story.

"Well, everything went off pretty well. About the time Mark was
finishing his lecture in Gold Hill the robbers all went up on the Divide
to wait, but Mark's audience gave him a kind of reception after his
lecture, and we nearly froze to death up there before he came along. By
and by I went back to see what was the matter. Sam and Denis were
coming, and carrying a carpet-sack about half full of silver between
them. I shadowed them and blew a policeman's whistle as a signal to the
boys when the lecturers were within about a hundred yards of the place. I
heard Sam say to Denis:

"'I'm glad they've got a policeman on the Divide. They never had one in
my day.'

"Just about that time the boys, all with black masks on and silver
dollars at the sides of their tongues to disguise their voices, stepped
out and stuck six-shooters at Sam and Denis and told them to put up their
hands. The robbers called each other 'Beauregard' and 'Stonewall
Jackson.' Of course Denis's hands went up, and Mark's, too, though Mark
wasn't a bit scared or excited. He talked to the robbers in his regular
fashion. He said:

"'Don't flourish those pistols so promiscuously. They might go off by
accident.'

"They told him to hand over his watch and money; but when he started to
take his hands down they made him put them up again. Then he asked how
they expected him to give them his valuables with his hands up in the
sky. He said his treasures didn't lie in heaven. He told them not to
take his watch, which was the one Sandy Baldwin and Theodore Winters had
given him as Governor of the Third House, but we took it all the same.

"Whenever he started to put his hands down we made him put them up again.
Once he said:

"'Don't you fellows be so rough. I was tenderly reared.'

"Then we told him and Denis to keep their hands up for fifteen minutes
after we were gone--this was to give us time to get back to Virginia and
be settled when they came along. As we were going away Mark called:

"'Say, you forgot something.'

"'What is it?'

"Why, the carpet-bag.'

"He was cool all the time. Senator Bill Stewart, in his Autobiography,
tells a great story of how scared Mark was, and how he ran; but Stewart
was three thousand miles from Virginia by that time, and later got mad at
Mark because he made a joke about him in 'Roughing It'.

"Denis wanted to take his hands down pretty soon after we were gone, but
Mark said:

"'No, Denis, I'm used to obeying orders when they are given in that
convincing way; we'll just keep our hands up another fifteen minutes or
so for good measure.'

"We were waiting in a big saloon on C Street when Mark and Denis came
along. We knew they would come in, and we expected Mark would be
excited; but he was as unruffled as a mountain lake. He told us they had
been robbed, and asked me if I had any money. I gave him a hundred
dollars of his own money, and he ordered refreshments for everybody. Then
we adjourned to the Enterprise office, where he offered a reward, and Dan
de Quille wrote up the story and telegraphed it to the other newspapers.
Then somebody suggested that Mark would have to give another lecture now,
and that the robbery would make a great subject. He entered right into
the thing, and next day we engaged Piper's Opera House, and people were
offering five dollars apiece for front seats. It would have been the
biggest thing that ever came to Virginia if it had come off. But we made
a mistake, then, by taking Sandy Baldwin into the joke. We took in Joe
here, too, and gave him the watch and money to keep, which made it hard
for Joe afterward. But it was Sandy Baldwin that ruined us. He had Mark
out to dinner the night before the show was to come off, and after he got
well warmed up with champagne he thought it would be a smart thing to let
Mark into what was really going on.

"Mark didn't see it our way. He was mad clear through."

At this point Joseph Goodman took up the story. He said:

"Those devils put Sam's money, watch, keys, pencils, and all his things
into my hands. I felt particularly mean at being made accessory to the
crime, especially as Sam was my guest, and I had grave doubts as to how
he would take it when he found out the robbery was not genuine.

"I felt terribly guilty when he said:

"'Joe, those d--n thieves took my keys, and I can't get into my trunk. Do
you suppose you could get me a key that would fit my trunk?'

"I said I thought I could during the day, and after Sam had gone I took
his own key, put it in the fire and burnt it to make it look black. Then
I took a file and scratched it here and there, to make it look as if I
had been fitting it to the lock, feeling guilty all the time, like a man
who is trying to hide a murder. Sam did not ask for his key that day,
and that evening he was invited to judge Baldwin's to dinner. I thought
he looked pretty silent and solemn when he came home; but he only said:

"'Joe, let's play cards; I don't feel sleepy.'

"Steve here, and two or three of the other boys who had been active in
the robbery, were present, and they did not like Sam's manner, so they
excused themselves and left him alone with me. We played a good while;
then he said:

"'Joe, these cards are greasy. I have got some new ones in my trunk. Did
you get that key to-day?'

"I fished out that burnt, scratched-up key with fear and trembling. But
he didn't seem to notice it at all, and presently returned with the
cards. Then we played, and played, and played--till one o'clock--two
o'clock--Sam hardly saying a word, and I wondering what was going to
happen. By and by he laid down his cards and looked at me, and said:

"'Joe, Sandy Baldwin told me all about that robbery to-night. Now, Joe,
I have found out that the law doesn't recognize a joke, and I am going to
send every one of those fellows to the penitentiary.'

"He said it with such solemn gravity, and such vindictiveness, that I
believed he was in dead earnest.

"I know that I put in two hours of the hardest work I ever did, trying to
talk him out of that resolution. I used all the arguments about the boys
being his oldest friends; how they all loved him, and how the joke had
been entirely for his own good; I pleaded with him, begged him to
reconsider; I went and got his money and his watch and laid them on the
table; but for a time it seemed hopeless. And I could imagine those
fellows going behind the bars, and the sensation it would make in
California; and just as I was about to give it up he said:

"'Well, Joe, I'll let it pass--this time; I'll forgive them again; I've
had to do it so many times; but if I should see Denis McCarthy and Steve
Gillis mounting the scaffold to-morrow, and I could save them by turning
over my hand, I wouldn't do it!'

"He canceled the lecture engagement, however, next morning, and the day
after left on the Pioneer Stage, by the way of Donner Lake, for
California. The boys came rather sheepishly to see him off; but he would
make no show of relenting. When they introduced themselves as
Beauregard, Stonewall Jackson, etc., he merely said:

"'Yes, and you'll all be behind the bars some day. There's been a good
deal of robbery around here lately, and it's pretty clear now who did
it.' They handed him a package containing the masks which the robbers
had worn. He received it in gloomy silence; but as the stage drove away
he put his head out of the window, and after some pretty vigorous
admonition resumed his old smile, and called out: 'Good-by, friends;
good-by, thieves; I bear you no malice.' So the heaviest joke was on his
tormentors after all."

This is the story of the famous Mark Twain robbery direct from
headquarters. It has been garbled in so many ways that it seems worth
setting down in full. Denis McCarthy, who joined him presently in San
Francisco, received a little more punishment there.

"What kind of a trip did you boys have?" a friend asked of them.

Clemens, just recovering from a cold which the exposure on the Divide had
given him, smiled grimly:

"Oh, pretty good, only Denis here mistook it for a spree."

He lectured again in San Francisco, this time telling the story of his
Overland trip in 1861, and he did the daring thing of repeating three
times the worn-out story of Horace Greeley's ride with Hank Monk, as
given later in 'Roughing It'. People were deadly tired of that story out
there, and when he told it the first time, with great seriousness, they
thought he must be failing mentally. They did not laugh--they only felt
sorry. He waited a little, as if expecting a laugh, and presently led
around to it and told it again. The audience was astonished still more,
and pitied him thoroughly. He seemed to be waiting pathetically in the
dead silence for their applause, then went on with his lecture; but
presently, with labored effort, struggled around to the old story again,
and told it for the third time. The audience suddenly saw the joke then,
and became vociferous and hysterical in their applause; but it was a
narrow escape. He would have been hysterical himself if the relief had
not came when it did.

--[A side-light on the Horace Greeley story and on Mr. Greeley's
eccentricities is furnished by Mr. Goodman:

When I was going East in 1869 I happened to see Hank Monk just before I
started. "Mr. Goodman," he said, "you tell Horace Greeley that I want to
come East, and ask him to send me a pass." "All right, Hank," I said, "I
will." It happened that when I got to New York City one of the first men
I met was Greeley. "Mr. Greeley," said, "I have a message for you from
Hank Monk." Greeley bristled and glared at me. "That--rascal?" he said,
"He has done me more injury than any other man in America."]




LVI

BACK TO THE STATES

In the mean time Clemens had completed his plan for sailing, and had
arranged with General McComb, of the Alta California, for letters during
his proposed trip around the world. However, he meant to visit his
people first, and his old home. He could go back with means now, and
with the prestige of success.

"I sail to-morrow per Opposition--telegraphed you to-day," he wrote on
December 14th, and a day later his note-book entry says:

    Sailed from San Francisco in Opposition (line) steamer America,
    Capt. Wakeman, at noon, 15th Dec., 1866. Pleasant sunny day, hills
    brightly clad with green grass and shrubbery.

So he was really going home at last! He had been gone five and a half
years--eventful, adventurous years that had made him over completely, at
least so far as ambitions and equipment were concerned. He had came
away, in his early manhood, a printer and a pilot, unknown outside of his
class. He was returning a man of thirty-one, with a fund of hard
experience, three added professions--mining, journalism, and lecturing
--also with a new name, already famous on the sunset slopes of its
adoption, and beginning to be heard over the hills and far away. In some
degree, at least, he resembled the prince of a fairy tale who, starting
out humble and unnoticed, wins his way through a hundred adventures and
returns with gifts and honors.

The homeward voyage was a notable one. It began with a tempest a little
way out of San Francisco--a storm terrible but brief, that brought the
passengers from their berths to the deck, and for a time set them
praying. Then there was Captain Ned Wakeman, a big, burly, fearless
sailor, who had visited the edges of all continents and archipelagos; who
had been born at sea, and never had a day's schooling in his life, but
knew the Bible by heart; who was full of human nature and profanity, and
believed he was the only man on the globe who knew the secret of the
Bible miracles. He became a distinct personality in Mark Twain's work
--the memory of him was an unfailing delight. Captain "Ned Blakely," in
'Roughing It', who with his own hands hanged Bill Noakes, after reading
him promiscuous chapters from the Bible, was Captain Wakeman. Captain
"Stormfield," who had the marvelous visit to heaven, was likewise Captain
Wakeman; and he appears in the "Idle Excursion" and elsewhere.

Another event of the voyage was crossing the Nicaragua Isthmus--the trip
across the lake and down the San Juan River--a brand-new experience,
between shores of splendid tropic tangle, gleaming with vivid life. The
luxuriance got into his note-book.

Dark grottos, fairy festoons, tunnels, temples, columns, pillars, towers,
pilasters, terraces, pyramids, mounds, domes, walls, in endless confusion
of vine-work--no shape known to architecture unimitated--and all so
webbed together that short distances within are only gained by glimpses.
Monkeys here and there; birds warbling; gorgeous plumaged birds on the
wing; Paradise itself, the imperial realm of beauty-nothing to wish for
to make it perfect.

But it was beyond the isthmus that the voyage loomed into proportions
somber and terrible. The vessel they took there, the San Francisco,
sailed from Greytown January 1, 1867, the beginning of a memorable year
in Mark Twain's life. Next day two cases of Asiatic cholera were
reported in the steerage. There had been a rumor of it in Nicaragua, but
no one expected it on the ship.

The nature of the disease was not hinted at until evening, when one of
the men died. Soon after midnight, the other followed. A minister
making the voyage home, Rev. J. G. Fackler, read the burial service. The
gaiety of the passengers, who had become well acquainted during the
Pacific voyage, was subdued. When the word "cholera" went among them,
faces grew grave and frightened. On the morning of January 4th Reverend
Fackler's services were again required. The dead man was put overboard
within half an hour after he had ceased to breathe.

Gloom settled upon the ship. All steam was made to put into Key West.
Then some of the machinery gave way and the ship lay rolling, helplessly
becalmed in the fierce heat of the Gulf, while repairs were being made.
The work was done at a disadvantage, and the parts did not hold. Time
and again they were obliged to lie to, in the deadly tropic heat,
listening to the hopeless hammering, wondering who would be the next to
be sewed up hastily in a blanket and slipped over the ship's side. On
the 5th seven new cases of illness were reported. One of the crew, a man
called "Shape," was said to be dying. A few hours later he was dead. By
this time the Reverend Fackler himself had been taken.

"So they are burying poor 'Shape' without benefit of clergy," says the
note-book.

General consternation now began to prevail. Then it was learned that the
ship's doctor had run out of medicines. The passengers became
demoralized. They believed their vessel was to become a charnel ship.
Strict sanitary orders were issued, and a hospital was improvised.

    Verily the ship is becoming a floating hospital herself--not an hour
    passes but brings its fresh sensation, its new disaster, its
    melancholy tidings. When I think of poor "Shape" and the preacher,
    both so well when I saw them yesterday evening, I realize that I
    myself may be dead to-morrow.

    Since the last two hours all laughter, all levity, has ceased on the
    ship--a settled gloom is upon the faces of the passengers.

By noon it was evident that the minister could not survive. He died at
two o'clock next morning; the fifth victim in less than five days. The
machinery continued to break and the vessel to drag. The ship's doctor
confessed to Clemens that he was helpless. There were eight patients in
the hospital.

But on January 6th they managed to make Key West, and for some reason
were not quarantined. Twenty-one passengers immediately deserted the
ship and were heard of no more.

"I am glad they are gone. D--n them," says the notebook. Apparently he
had never considered leaving, and a number of others remained. The
doctor restocked his medicine-locker, and the next day they put to sea
again. Certainly they were a daring lot of voyagers. On the 8th another
of the patients died. Then the cooler weather seemed to check the
contagion, and it was not until the night of the 11th, when the New York
harbor lights were in view, that the final death occurred. There were no
new cases by this time, and the other patients were convalescent. A
certificate was made out that the last man had died of "dropsy." There
would seem to have been no serious difficulty in docking the vessel and
landing the passengers. The matter would probably be handled differently
to-day.




LVII

OLD FRIENDS AND NEW PLANS

It had been more than thirteen years since his first arrival in New York.
Then he had been a youth, green, untraveled, eager to get away from home.
Now a veteran, he was as eager to return.

He stopped only long enough in New York to see Charles Henry Webb, late
of California, who had put together a number of the Mark Twain sketches,
including "The Jumping Frog," for book publication. Clemens himself
decided to take the book to Carleton, thinking that, having missed the
fame of the "Frog" once, he might welcome a chance to stand sponsor for
it now. But Carleton was wary; the "Frog" had won favor, and even fame,
in its fugitive, vagrant way, but a book was another matter. Books were
undertaken very seriously and with plenty of consideration in those days.
Twenty-one years later, in Switzerland, Carleton said to Mark Twain:

"My chief claim to immortality is the distinction of having declined your
first book."

Clemens was ready enough to give up the book when Carleton declined it,
but Webb said he would publish it himself, and he set about it forthwith.
The author waited no longer now, but started for St. Louis, and was soon
with his mother and sister, whom he had not seen since that eventful
first year of the war. They thought he looked old, which was true
enough, but they found him unchanged in his manner: buoyant, full of
banter and gravely quaint remarks--he was always the same. Jane Clemens
had grown older, too. She was nearly sixty-four, but as keen and
vigorous as ever-proud (even if somewhat critical) of this handsome,
brilliant man of new name and fame who had been her mischievous, wayward
boy. She petted him, joked with him, scolded him, and inquired
searchingly into his morals and habits. In turn he petted, comforted,
and teased her. She decided that he was the same Sam, and always would
be--a true prophecy.

He went up to Hannibal to see old friends. Many were married; some had
moved away; some were dead--the old story. He delivered his lecture
there, and was the center of interest and admiration--his welcome might
have satisfied even Tom Sawyer. From Hannibal he journeyed to Keokuk,
where he lectured again to a crowd of old friends and new, then returned
to St. Louis for a more extended visit.

It was while he was in St. Louis that he first saw the announcement of
the Quaker City Holy Land Excursion, and was promptly fascinated by what
was then a brand-new idea in ocean travel--a splendid picnic--a choice
and refined party that would sail away for a long summer's journeying to
the most romantic of all lands and seas, the shores of the Mediterranean.
No such argosy had ever set out before in pursuit of the golden fleece of
happiness.

His projected trip around the world lost its charm in the light of this
idyllic dream. Henry Ward Beecher was advertised as one of the party;
General Sherman as another; also ministers, high-class journalists--the
best minds of the nation. Anson Burlingame had told him to associate
with persons of refinement and intellect. He lost no time in writing to
the Alta, proposing that they send him in this select company.

Noah Brooks, who was then on the Alta, states--[In an article published
in the Century Magazine.]--that the management was staggered by the
proposition, but that Col. John McComb insisted that the investment in
Mark Twain would be sound. A letter was accordingly sent, stating that a
check for his passage would be forwarded in due season, and that meantime
he could contribute letters from New York City. The rate for all letters
was to be twenty dollars each. The arrangement was a godsend, in the
fullest sense of the word, to Mark Twain.

It was now April, and he was eager to get back to New York to arrange his
passage. The Quaker City would not sail for two months yet (two eventful
months), but the advertisement said that passages must be secured by the
5th, and he was there on that day. Almost the first man he met was the
chief of the New York Alta bureau with a check for twelve hundred and
fifty dollars (the amount of his ticket) and a telegram saying, "Ship
Mark Twain in the Holy Land Excursion and pay his passage."

    --[The following letter, which bears no date, was probably handed to
    him later in the New York Alta office as a sort of credential:

    ALTA CALIFORNIA OFFICE, 42 JOHN STREET, NEW YORK.

    Sam'l Clemens, Esq., New York.

    DEAR SIR,--I have the honor to inform you that Fred'k. MacCrellish
    & Co., Proprietors of Alta California, San Francisco, Cal., desire
    to engage your services as Special Correspondent on the pleasure
    excursion now about to proceed from this City to the Holy Land. In
    obedience to their instructions I have secured a passage for you on
    the vessel about to convey the excursion party referred to, and made
    such arrangements as I hope will secure your comfort and
    convenience. Your only instructions are that you will continue to
    write at such times and from such places as you deem proper, and in
    the same style that heretofore secured you the favor of the readers
    of the Alta California. I have the honor to remain, with high
    respect and esteem,

    Your ob'dt. Servant,

    JOHN J. MURPHY.]

The Alta, it appears, had already applied for his berth; but, not having
been vouched for by Mr. Beecher or some other eminent divine, Clemens was
fearful he might not be accepted. Quite casually he was enlightened on
this point. While waiting for attention in the shipping-office, with the
Alta agent, he heard a newspaper man inquire what notables were going. A
clerk, with evident pride, rattled off the names:

"Lieutenant-General Sherman, Henry Ward Beecher, and Mask Twain; also
probably General Banks."

So he was billed as an attraction. It was his first surreptitious taste
of fame on the Atlantic coast, and not without its delight. The story
often told of his being introduced by Ned House, of the Tribune, as a
minister, though often repeated by Mark Twain himself, was in the nature
of a joke, and mainly apocryphal. Clemens was a good deal in House's
company at the time, for he had made an arrangement to contribute
occasional letters to the Tribune, and House no doubt introduced him
jokingly as one of the Quaker City ministers.




LVIII

A NEW BOOK AND A LECTURE

Webb, meantime, had pushed the Frog book along. The proofs had been read
and the volume was about ready for issue. Clemens wrote to his mother
April 15th:

    My book will probably be in the bookseller's hands in about two
    weeks. After that I shall lecture. Since I have been gone, the
    boys have gotten up a "call" on me signed by two hundred
    Californians.

The lecture plan was the idea of Frank Fuller, who as acting Governor of
Utah had known Mark Twain on the Comstock, and prophesied favorably of
his future career. Clemens had hunted up Fuller on landing in New York
in January, and Fuller had encouraged the lecture then; but Clemens was
doubtful.

"I have no reputation with the general public here," he said. "We
couldn't get a baker's dozen to hear me."

But Fuller was a sanguine person, with an energy and enthusiasm that were
infectious. He insisted that the idea was sound. It would solidify Mark
Twain's reputation on the Atlantic coast, he declared, insisting that the
largest house in New York, Cooper Union, should be taken. Clemens had
partially consented, and Fuller had arranged with all the Pacific slope
people who had come East, headed by ex-Governor James W. Nye (by this
time Senator at Washington), to sign a call for the "Inimitable Mark
Twain" to appear before a New York audience. Fuller made Nye agree to be
there and introduce the lecturer, and he was burningly busy and happy in
the prospect.

But Mark Twain was not happy. He looked at that spacious hall and
imagined the little crowd of faithful Californian stragglers that might
gather in to hear him, and the ridicule of the papers next day. He
begged Fuller to take a smaller hall, the smallest he could get. But
only the biggest hall in New York would satisfy Fuller. He would have
taken a larger one if he could have found it. The lecture was announced
for May 6th. Its subject was "Kanakadom, or the Sandwich Islands"
--tickets fifty cents. Fuller timed it to follow a few days after Webb's
book should appear, so that one event might help the other.

Mark Twain's first book, 'The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveyas
County, and Other Sketches', was scheduled for May 1st, and did, in fact,
appear on that date; but to the author it was no longer an important
event. Jim Smiley's frog as standard-bearer of his literary procession
was not an interesting object, so far as he was concerned--not with that
vast, empty hall in the background and the insane undertaking of trying
to fill it. The San Francisco venture had been as nothing compared with
this. Fuller was working night and day with abounding joy, while the
subject of his labor felt as if he were on the brink of a fearful
precipice, preparing to try a pair of wings without first learning to
fly. At one instant he was cold with fright, the next glowing with an
infection of Fuller's faith. He devised a hundred schemes for the sale
of seats. Once he came rushing to Fuller, saying:

"Send a lot of tickets down to the Chickering Piano Company. I have
promised to put on my programme, 'The piano used at this entertainment is
manufactured by Chickering."'

"But you don't want a piano, Mark," said Fuller, "do you?"

"No, of course not; but they will distribute the tickets for the sake of
the advertisement, whether we have the piano or not."

Fuller got out a lot of handbills and hung bunches of them in the stages,
omnibuses, and horse-cars. Clemens at first haunted these vehicles to
see if anybody noticed the bills. The little dangling bunches seemed
untouched. Finally two men came in; one of them pulled off a bill and
glanced at it. His friend asked:

"Who's Mark Twain?"

"God knows; I don't!"

The lecturer could not ride any more. He was desperate.

"Fuller," he groaned, "there isn't a sign--a ripple of interest."

Fuller assured him that everything was working all right "working
underneath," Fuller said--but the lecturer was hopeless. He reported his
impressions to the folks at home:

    Everything looks shady, at least, if not dark; I have a good agent;
    but now, after we have hired the Cooper Institute, and gone to an
    expense in one way or another of $500, it comes out that I have got
    to play against Speaker Colfax at Irving Hall, Ristori, and also the
    double troop of Japanese jugglers, the latter opening at the great
    Academy of Music--and with all this against me I have taken the
    largest house in New York and cannot back water.

He might have added that there were other rival entertainments: "The
Flying Scud" was at Wallack's, the "Black Crook" was at Niblo's, John
Brougham at the Olympic; and there were at least a dozen lesser
attractions. New York was not the inexhaustible city in those days;
these things could gather in the public to the last man. When the day
drew near, and only a few tickets had been sold, Clemens was desperate.

"Fuller," he said, "there'll be nobody in the Cooper Union that night but
you and me. I am on the verge of suicide. I would commit suicide if I
had the pluck and the outfit. You must paper the house, Fuller. You
must send out a flood of complementaries."

"Very well," said Fuller; "what we want this time is reputation anyway
--money is secondary. I'll put you before the choicest, most intelligent
audience that ever was gathered in New York City. I will bring in the
school-instructors--the finest body of men and women in the world."

Fuller immediately sent out a deluge of complimentary tickets, inviting
the school-teachers of New York and Brooklyn, and all the adjacent
country, to come free and hear Mark Twain's great lecture on Kanakadom.
This was within forty-eight hours of the time he was to appear.

Senator Nye was to have joined Clemens and Fuller at the Westminster,
where Clemens was stopping, and they waited for him there with a
carriage, fuming and swearing, until it was evident that he was not
coming. At last Clemens said:

"Fuller, you've got to introduce me."

"No," suggested Fuller; "I've got a better scheme than that. You get up
and begin by bemeaning Nye for not being there. That will be better
anyway."

Clemens said:

"Well, Fuller, I can do that. I feel that way. I'll try to think up
something fresh and happy to say about that horse-thief."

They drove to Cooper Union with trepidation. Suppose, after all, the
school-teachers had declined to come? They went half an hour before the
lecture was to begin. Forty years later Mark Twain said:

"I couldn't keep away. I wanted to see that vast Mammoth cave and die.
But when we got near the building I saw that all the streets were blocked
with people, and that traffic had stopped. I couldn't believe that these
people were trying to get into Cooper Institute; but they were, and when
I got to the stage at last the house was jammed full-packed; there wasn't
room enough left for a child.

"I was happy and I was excited beyond expression. I poured the Sandwich
Islands out on those people, and they laughed and shouted to my entire
content. For an hour and fifteen minutes I was in paradise."

And Fuller to-day, alive and young, when so many others of that ancient
time and event have vanished, has added:

"When Mark appeared the Californians gave a regular yell of welcome. When
that was over he walked to the edge of the platform, looked carefully
down in the pit, round the edges as if he were hunting for something.
Then he said: 'There was to have been a piano here, and a senator to
introduce me. I don't seem to discover them anywhere. The piano was a
good one, but we will have to get along with such music as I can make
with your help. As for the senator--Then Mark let himself go and did as
he promised about Senator Nye. He said things that made men from the
Pacific coast, who had known Nye, scream with delight. After that came
his lecture. The first sentence captured the audience. From that moment
to the end it was either in a roar of laughter or half breathless by his
beautiful descriptive passages. People were positively ill for days,
laughing at that lecture."

So it was a success: everybody was glad to have been there; the papers
were kind, congratulations numerous.

--[Kind but not extravagant; those were burning political times, and the
doings of mere literary people did not excite the press to the extent of
headlines. A jam around Cooper Union to-day, followed by such an
artistic triumph, would be a news event. On the other hand, Schuyler
Colfax, then Speaker of the House, was reported to the extent of a
column, nonpareil. His lecture was of no literary importance, and no
echo of it now remains. But those were political, not artistic, days.

Of Mark Twain's lecture the Times notice said:

"Nearly every one present came prepared for considerable provocation for
enjoyable laughter, and from the appearance of their mirthful faces
leaving the hall at the conclusion of the lecture but few were
disappointed, and it is not too much to say that seldom has so large an
audience been so uniformly pleased as the one that listened to Mark
Twain's quaint remarks last evening. The large hall of the Union was
filled to its utmost capacity by fully two thousand persons, which fact
spoke well for the reputation of the lecturer and his future success.
Mark Twain's style is a quaint one both in manner and method, and through
his discourse he managed to keep on the right side of the audience, and
frequently convulsed it with hearty laughter.... During a description of
the topography of the Sandwich Islands the lecturer surprised his hearers
by a graphic and eloquent description of the eruption of the great
volcano, which occurred in 1840, and his language was loudly applauded.

"Judging from the success achieved by the lecturer last evening, he
should repeat his experiment at an early date."]

                   COOPER INSTITUTE
    By Invitation of s large number of prominent Californians and
                  Citizens of New York,

                      MARK TWAIN

                    WILL DELIVER A
                  SERIO-HUMEROUS LECTURE
                      CONERNING

                      KANAKDOM
                         OR
                  THE SANDWICH ISLANDS,

                   COOPER INSTITUTE,
               On Monday Evening, May 6,1867.

                  TICKETS FIFTY GENTS.
 For Sale at Chickering and Sons, 852 Broadway, and at the Principal
                       Hotel

    Doors open at 7 o'clock.  The Wisdom will begin to flow at 8.

Mark Twain always felt grateful to the school-teachers for that night.
Many years later, when they wanted him to read to them in Steinway Hall,
he gladly gave his services without charge.

Nor was the lecture a complete financial failure. In spite of the flood
of complementaries, there was a cash return of some three hundred dollars
from the sale of tickets--a substantial aid in defraying the expenses
which Fuller assumed and insisted on making good on his own account. That
was Fuller's regal way; his return lay in the joy of the game, and in the
winning of the larger stake for a friend.

"Mark," he said, "it is all right. The fortune didn't come, but it will.
The fame has arrived; with this lecture and your book just out you are
going to be the most talked-of man in the country. Your letters for the
Alta and the Tribune will get the widest reception of any letters of
travel ever written."




LIX

THE FIRST BOOK

With the shadow of the Cooper Institute so happily dispelled, The
Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and his following of Other
Sketches, became a matter of more interest. The book was a neat
blue-and-gold volume printed by John A. Gray & Green, the old firm for
which the boy, Sam Clemens, had set type thirteen years before. The
title-page bore Webb's name as publisher, with the American News Company
as selling agents. It further stated that the book was edited by "John
Paul," that is to say by Webb himself. The dedication was in keeping
with the general irresponsible character of the venture. It was as
follows:

                         TO
                      JOHN SMITH
            WHOM I HAVE KNOWN IN DIVERS AND SUNDRY
             PLACES ABOUT THE WORLD, AND WHOSE
               MANY AND MANIFOLD VIRTUES DID
                ALWAYS COMMAND MY ESTEEM,
                  I DEDICATE THIS BOOK

It is said that the man to whom a volume is dedicated always buys a copy.
If this prove true in the present instance, a princely affluence is about
to burst upon
                                   THE AUTHOR.

The "advertisement" stated that the author had "scaled the heights of
popularity at a single jump, and won for himself the sobriquet of the
'Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope'; furthermore, that he was known to
fame as the 'Moralist of the Main,'" and that as such he would be likely
to go down to posterity, adding that it was in his secondary character,
as humorist, rather than in his primal one of moralist, that the volume
aimed to present him.--[The advertisement complete, with extracts from
the book, may be found under Appendix E, at the end of last volume.]

Every little while, during the forty years or more that have elapsed
since then, some one has come forward announcing Mark Twain to be as much
a philosopher as a humorist, as if this were a new discovery. But it was
a discovery chiefly to the person making the announcement. Every one who
ever knew Mark Twain at any period of his life made the same discovery.
Every one who ever took the trouble to familiarize himself with his work
made it. Those who did not make it have known his work only by hearsay
and quotation, or they have read it very casually, or have been very
dull. It would be much more of a discovery to find a book in which he
has not been serious--a philosopher, a moralist, and a poet. Even in the
Jumping Frog sketches, selected particularly for their inconsequence, the
under-vein of reflection and purpose is not lacking. The answer to Moral
Statistician--[In "Answers to Correspondents," included now in Sketches
New and Old. An extract from it, and from "A Strange Dream," will be
found in Appendix E.]--is fairly alive with human wisdom and righteous
wrath. The "Strange Dream," though ending in a joke, is aglow with
poetry. Webb's "advertisement" was playfully written, but it was
earnestly intended, and he writes Mark Twain down a moralist--not as a
discovery, but as a matter of course. The discoveries came along later,
when the author's fame as a humorist had dazzled the nations.

It is as well to say it here as anywhere, perhaps, that one reason why
Mark Twain found it difficult to be accepted seriously was the fact that
his personality was in itself so essentially humorous. His physiognomy,
his manner of speech, this movement, his mental attitude toward events
--all these were distinctly diverting. When we add to this that his
medium of expression was nearly always full of the quaint phrasing and
those surprising appositions which we recognize as amusing, it is not so
astonishing that his deeper, wiser, more serious purpose should be
overlooked. On the whole these unabated discoverers serve a purpose, if
only to make the rest of their species look somewhat deeper than the
comic phrase.

The little blue-and-gold volume which presented the Frog story and
twenty-six other sketches in covers is chiefly important to-day as being
Mark Twain's first book. The selections in it were made for a public
that had been too busy with a great war to learn discrimination, and most
of them have properly found oblivion. Fewer than a dozen of them were
included in his collected Sketches issued eight years later, and some
even of those might have been spared; also some that were added, for that
matter; but detailed literary criticism is not the province of this work.
The reader may investigate and judge for himself.

Clemens was pleased with the appearance of his book. To Bret Harte he
wrote:

The book is out and it is handsome. It is full of damnable errors of
grammar and deadly inconsistencies of spelling in the Frog sketch,
because I was away and did not read proofs; but be a friend and say
nothing about these things. When my hurry is over, I will send you a
copy to pisen the children with.

That he had no exaggerated opinion of the book's contents or prospects we
may gather from his letter home:

As for the Frog book, I don't believe it will ever pay anything worth a
cent. I published it simply to advertise myself, and not with the hope
of making anything out of it.

He had grown more lenient in his opinion of the merits of the Frog story
itself since it had made friends in high places, especially since James
Russell Lowell had pronounced it "the finest piece of humorous writing
yet produced in America"; but compared with his lecture triumph, and his
prospective journey to foreign seas, his book venture, at best, claimed
no more than a casual regard. A Sandwich Island book (he had collected
his Union letters with the idea of a volume) he gave up altogether after
one unsuccessful offer of it to Dick & Fitzgerald.

Frank Fuller's statement, that the fame had arrived, had in it some
measure of truth. Lecture propositions came from various directions.
Thomas Nast, then in the early day of his great popularity, proposed a
joint tour, in which Clemens would lecture, while he, Nast, illustrated
the remarks with lightning caricatures. But the time was too short; the
Quaker City would sail on the 8th of June, and in the mean time the Alta
correspondent was far behind with his New York letters. On May 29th he
wrote:

I am 18 Alta letters behind, and I must catch up or bust. I have refused
all invitations to lecture. Don't know how my book is coming on.

He worked like a slave for a week or so, almost night and day, to clean
up matters before his departure. Then came days of idleness and
reaction-days of waiting, during which his natural restlessness and the
old-time regret for things done and undone, beset him.

    My passage is paid, and if the ship sails I sail on her; but I make
    no calculations, have bought no cigars, no sea-going clothing--have
    made no preparations whatever--shall not pack my trunk till the
    morning we sail.

    All I do know or feel is that I am wild with impatience to move
    --move--move! Curse the endless delays! They always kill me--they
    make me neglect every duty, and then I have a conscience that tears
    me like a wild beast. I wish I never had to stop anywhere a month.
    I do more mean things the moment I get a chance to fold my hands and
    sit down than ever I get forgiveness for.

    Yes, we are to meet at Mr. Beach's next Thursday night, and I
    suppose we shall have to be gotten up regardless of expense, in
    swallow-tails, white kids and everything 'en regle'.

    I am resigned to Rev. Mr. Hutchinson's or anybody else's
    supervision. I don't mind it. I am fixed. I have got a splendid,
    immoral, tobacco-smoking, wine-drinking, godless roommate who is as
    good and true and right-minded a man as ever lived--a man whose
    blameless conduct and example will always be an eloquent sermon to
    all who shall come within their influence. But send on the
    professional preachers--there are none I like better to converse
    with; if they're not narrowminded and bigoted they make good
    companions.

The "splendid immoral room-mate" was Dan Slote--"Dan," of The Innocents,
a lovable character--all as set down. Samuel Clemens wrote one more
letter to his mother and sister--a conscience-stricken, pessimistic
letter of good-by written the night before sailing. Referring to the
Alta letters he says:

    I think they are the stupidest letters ever written from New York.
    Corresponding has been a perfect drag ever since I got to the
    States. If it continues abroad, I don't know what the Tribune and
    Alta folk will think.

He remembers Orion, who had been officially eliminated when Nevada had
received statehood.

    I often wonder if his law business is going satisfactorily. I wish
    I had gone to Washington in the winter instead of going West. I
    could have gouged an office out of Bill Stewart for him, and that
    would have atoned for the loss of my home visit. But I am so
    worthless that it seems to me I never do anything or accomplish
    anything that lingers in my mind as a pleasant memory. My mind is
    stored full of unworthy conduct toward Orion and toward you all, and
    an accusing conscience gives me peace only in excitement and
    restless moving from place to place. If I could only say I had done
    one thing for any of you that entitled me to your good opinions (I
    say nothing of your love, for I am sure of that, no matter how
    unworthy of it I may make myself--from Orion down, you have always
    given me that; all the days of my life, when God Almighty knows I
    have seldom deserved it), I believe I could go home and stay there
    --and I know I would care little for the world's praise or blame.
    There is no satisfaction in the world's praise anyhow, and it has no
    worth to me save in the way of business. I tried to gather up its
    compliments to send you, but the work was distasteful and I dropped
    it.

    You observe that under a cheerful exterior I have got a spirit that
    is angry with me and gives me freely its contempt. I can get away
    from that at sea, and be tranquil and satisfied; and so, with my
    parting love and benediction for Orion and all of you, I say good-by
    and God bless you all-and welcome the wind that wafts a weary soul
    to the sunny lands of the Mediterranean!

                     Yrs. forever,
                                SAM




LX

THE INNOCENTS AT SEA

       HOLY LAND PLEASURE EXCURSION

       Steamer: Quaker City.

       Captain C. C. Duncan.

       Left New York at 2 P.m., June 8, 1867.

       Rough weather--anchored within the harbor to lay all night.

That first note recorded an event momentous in Mark Twain's career--an
event of supreme importance; if we concede that any link in a chain
regardless of size is of more importance than any other link. Undoubtedly
it remains the most conspicuous event, as the world views it now, in
retrospect.

The note further heads a new chapter of history in sea-voyaging. No such
thing as the sailing of an ocean steamship with a pleasure-party on a
long transatlantic cruise had ever occurred before. A similar project
had been undertaken the previous year, but owing to a cholera scare in
the East it had been abandoned. Now the dream had become a fact--a
stupendous fact when we consider it. Such an important beginning as that
now would in all likelihood furnish the chief news story of the day.

But they had different ideas of news in those days. There were no
headlines announcing the departure of the Quaker City--only the barest
mention of the ship's sailing, though a prominent position was given to
an account of a senatorial excursion-party which set out that same
morning over the Union Pacific Railway, then under construction. Every
name in that political party was set dawn, and not one of them except
General Hancock will ever be heard of again. The New York Times,
however, had some one on its editorial staff who thought it worth while
to comment a little on the history-making Quaker City excursion. The
writer was pleasantly complimentary to officers and passengers. He
referred to Moses S. Beach, of the Sun, who was taking with him type and
press, whereby he would "skilfully utilize the brains of the company for
their mutual edification." Mr. Beecher and General Sherman would find
talent enough aboard to make the hours go pleasantly (evidently the
writer had not interested himself sufficiently to know that these
gentlemen were not along), and the paragraph closed by prophesying other
such excursions, and wishing the travelers "good speed, a happy voyage,
and a safe return."

That was handsome, especially for those days; only now, some fine day,
when an airship shall start with a band of happy argonauts to land beyond
the sunrise for the first time in history, we shall feature it and
emblazon it with pictures in the Sunday papers, and weeklies, and in the
magazines.--[The Quaker City idea was so unheard-of that in some of the
foreign ports visited, the officials could not believe that the vessel
was simply a pleasure-craft, and were suspicious of some dark, ulterior
purpose.]

That Henry Ward Beecher and General Sherman had concluded not to go was a
heavy disappointment at first; but it proved only a temporary disaster.
The inevitable amalgamation of all ship companies took place. The
sixty-seven travelers fell into congenial groups, or they mingled and
devised amusements, and gossiped and became a big family, as happy and as
free from contention as families of that size are likely to be.

The Quaker City was a good enough ship and sizable for her time. She was
registered eighteen hundred tons--about one-tenth the size of
Mediterranean excursion-steamers today--and when conditions were
favorable she could make ten knots an hour under steam--or, at least, she
could do it with the help of her auxiliary sails. Altogether she was a
cozy, satisfactory ship, and they were a fortunate company who had her
all to themselves and went out on her on that long-ago ocean gipsying.
She has grown since then, even to the proportions of the Mayflower. It
was necessary for her to grow to hold all of those who in later times
claimed to have sailed in her on that voyage with Mark Twain.--[The
Quaker City passenger list will be found under Appendix F, at the end of
last volume.]

They were not all ministers and deacons aboard the Quaker City. Clemens
found other congenial spirits be sides his room-mate Dan Slote--among
them the ship's surgeon, Dr. A. Reeve Jackson (the guide-destroying
"Doctor" of The Innocents); Jack Van Nostrand, of New Jersey ("Jack");
Julius Moulton, of St. Louis ("Moult"), and other care-free fellows, the
smoking-room crowd which is likely to make comradeship its chief
watchword. There were companionable people in the cabin crowd also
--fine, intelligent men and women, especially one of the latter, a
middle-aged, intellectual, motherly soul--Mrs. A. W. Fairbanks, of
Cleveland, Ohio. Mrs. Fairbanks--herself a newspaper correspondent for
her husband's paper, the Cleveland Herald had a large influence on the
character and general tone of those Quaker City letters which established
Mark Twain's larger fame. She was an able writer herself; her judgment
was thoughtful, refined, unbiased--altogether of a superior sort. She
understood Samuel Clemens, counseled him, encouraged him to read his
letters aloud to her, became in reality "Mother Fairbanks," as they
termed her, to him and to others of that ship who needed her kindly
offices.

In one of his home letters, later, he said of her:

    She was the most refined, intelligent, cultivated lady in the ship,
    and altogether the kindest and best. She sewed my buttons on, kept
    my clothing in presentable trim, fed me on Egyptian jam (when I
    behaved), lectured me awfully on the quarter-deck on moonlit
    promenading evenings, and cured me of several bad habits. I am
    under lasting obligations to her. She looks young because she is so
    good, but she has a grown son and daughter at home.

In one of the early letters which Mrs. Fairbanks wrote to her paper she
is scarcely less complimentary to him, even if in a different way.

    We have D.D.'s and M.D.'s--we have men of wisdom and men of wit.
    There is one table from which is sure to come a peal of laughter,
    and all eyes are turned toward Mark Twain, whose face is, perfectly
    mirth-provoking. Sitting lazily at the table, scarcely genteel in
    his appearance, there is something, I know not what, that interests
    and attracts. I saw to-day at dinner venerable divines and sage-
    looking men convulsed with laughter at his drolleries and quaint,
    odd manners.

It requires only a few days on shipboard for acquaintances to form, and
presently a little afternoon group was gathering to hear Mark Twain read
his letters. Mrs. Fairbanks was there, of course, also Mr. and Mrs. S.
L. Severance, likewise of Cleveland, and Moses S. Beach, of the Sun, with
his daughter Emma, a girl of seventeen. Dan Slote was likely to be
there, too, and Jack, and the Doctor, and Charles J. Langdon, of Elmira,
New York, a boy of eighteen, who had conceived a deep admiration for the
brilliant writer. They were fortunate ones who first gathered to hear
those daring, wonderful letters.

But the benefit was a mutual one. He furnished a priceless entertainment,
and he derived something equally priceless in return--the test of
immediate audience and the boon of criticism. Mrs. Fairbanks especially
was frankly sincere. Mr. Severance wrote afterward:

    One afternoon I saw him tearing up a bunch of the soft, white paper-
    copy paper, I guess the newspapers call it-on which he had written
    something, and throwing the fragments into the Mediterranean. I
    inquired of him why he cast away the fruits of his labors in that
    manner.

"Well," he drawled, "Mrs. Fairbanks thinks it oughtn't to be printed,
and, like as not, she is right."

And Emma Beach (Mrs. Abbott Thayer) remembers hearing him say:

"Well, Mrs. Fairbanks has just destroyed another four hours' work for
me."

Sometimes he played chess with Emma Beach, who thought him a great hero
because, once when a crowd of men were tormenting a young lad, a
passenger, Mark Twain took the boy's part and made them desist.

"I am sure I was right, too," she declares; "heroism came natural to
him."

Mr. Severance recalls another incident which, as he says, was trivial
enough, but not easy to forget:

We were having a little celebration over the birthday anniversary of Mrs.
Duncan, wife of our captain. Mark Twain got up and made a little speech,
in which he said Mrs. Duncan was really older than Methuselah because she
knew a lot of things that Methuselah never heard of. Then he mentioned a
number of more or less modern inventions, and wound up by saying, "What
did Methuselah know about a barbed-wire fence?"

Except Following the Equator, The Innocents Abroad comes nearer to being
history than any other of Mark Twain's travel-books. The notes for it
were made on the spot, and there was plenty of fact, plenty of fresh, new
experience, plenty of incident to set down. His idea of descriptive
travel in those days was to tell the story as it happened; also, perhaps,
he had not then acquired the courage of his inventions. We may believe
that the adventures with Jack, Dan, and the Doctor are elaborated here
and there; but even those happened substantially as recorded. There is
little to add, then, to the story of that halcyon trip, and not much to
elucidate.

The old note-books give a light here and there that is interesting. It
is curious to be looking through them now, trying to realize that these
penciled memoranda were the fresh, first impressions that would presently
grow into the world's most delightful book of travel; that they were set
down in the very midst of that care-free little company that frolicked
through Italy, climbed wearily the arid Syrian hills. They are all dead
now; but to us they are as alive and young to-day as when they followed
the footprints of the Son of Man through Palestine, and stood at last
before the Sphinx, impressed and awed by its "five thousand
slow-revolving years."

Some of the items consist of no more than a few terse, suggestive words
--serious, humorous, sometimes profane. Others are statistical,
descriptive, elaborated. Also there are drawings--"not copied," he marks
them, with a pride not always justified by the result. The earlier notes
are mainly comments on the "pilgrims," the freak pilgrims: "the
Frenchy-looking woman who owns a dog and keeps up an interminable
biography of him to the passengers"; the "long-legged, simple,
wide-mouthed, horse-laughing young fellow who once made a sea voyage to
Fortress Monroe, and quotes eternally from his experiences"; also, there
is reference to another young man, "good, accommodating, pleasant but
fearfully green." This young person would become the "Interrogation
Point," in due time, and have his picture on page 71 (old edition), while
opposite him, on page 70, would appear the "oracle," identified as one
Doctor Andrews, who (the note-book says) had the habit of "smelling in
guide-books for knowledge and then trying to play it for old information
that has been festering in his brain." Sometimes there are abstract
notes such as:

How lucky Adam was. He knew when he said a good thing that no one had
ever said it before.

Of the "character" notes, the most important and elaborated is that which
presents the "Poet Lariat." This is the entry, somewhat epitomized:

                  BLOODGOOD H. CUTTER

    He is fifty years old, and small of his age. He dresses in
    homespun, and is a simple-minded, honest, old-fashioned farmer, with
    a strange proclivity for writing rhymes. He writes them on all
    possible subjects, and gets them printed on slips of paper, with his
    portrait at the head. These he will give to any man who comes
    along, whether he has anything against him or not . . . .

    Dan said:

    "It must be a great happiness to you to sit down at the close of day
    and put its events all down in rhymes and poetry, like Byron and
    Shakespeare and those fellows."

    "Oh yes, it is--it is--Why, many's the time I've had to get up in
    the night when it comes on me:

       Whether we're on the sea or the land
       We've all got to go at the word of command--

    "Hey! how's that?"

A curious character was Cutter--a Long Island farmer with the obsession
of rhyme. In his old age, in an interview, he said:

"Mark was generally writing and he was glum. He would write what we were
doing, and I would write poetry, and Mark would say:

"'For Heaven's sake, Cutter, keep your poems to yourself.'

"Yes, Mark was pretty glum, and he was generally writing."

Poor old Poet Lariat--dead now with so many others of that happy crew. We
may believe that Mark learned to be "glum" when he saw the Lariat
approaching with his sheaf of rhymes. We may believe, too, that he was
"generally writing." He contributed fifty-three letters to the Alta
during that five months and six to the Tribune. They would average about
two columns nonpareil each, which is to say four thousand words, or
something like two hundred and fifty thousand words in all. To turn out
an average of fifteen hundred words a day, with continuous sight-seeing
besides, one must be generally writing during any odd intervals; those
who are wont to regard Mark Twain as lazy may consider these statistics.
That he detested manual labor is true enough, but at the work for which
he was fitted and intended it may be set down here upon authority (and
despite his own frequent assertions to the contrary) that to his last
year he was the most industrious of men.




LXI

THE INNOCENTS ABROAD

It was Dan, Jack, and the Doctor who with Mark Twain wandered down
through Italy and left moral footprints that remain to this day. The
Italian guides are wary about showing pieces of the True Cross, fragments
of the Crown of Thorns, and the bones of saints since then. They show
them, it is true, but with a smile; the name of Mark Twain is a
touch-stone to test their statements. Not a guide in Italy but has heard
the tale of that iconoclastic crew, and of the book which turned their
marvels into myths, their relics into bywords.

It was Doctor Jackson, Colonel Denny, Doctor Birch, and Samuel Clemens
who evaded the quarantine and made the perilous night trip to Athens and
looked upon the Parthenon and the sleeping city by moonlight. It is all
set down in the notes, and the account varies little from that given in
the book; only he does not tell us that Captain Duncan and the
quartermaster, Pratt, connived at the escapade, or how the latter watched
the shore in anxious suspense until he heard the whistle which was their
signal to be taken aboard. It would have meant six months' imprisonment
if they had been captured, for there was no discretion in the Greek law.

It was T. D. Crocker, A. N. Sanford, Col. Peter Kinney, and William
Gibson who were delegated to draft the address to the Emperor of Russia
at Yalta, with Samuel L. Clemens as chairman of that committee. The
chairman wrote the address, the opening sentence of which he grew so
weary of hearing:

    We are a handful of private citizens of America, traveling simply
    for recreation, and unostentatiously, as becomes our unofficial
    state.

The address is all set down in the notes, and there also exists the first
rough draft, with the emendations in his own hand. He deplores the time
it required:

    That job is over. Writing addresses to emperors is not my strong
    suit. However, if it is not as good as it might be it doesn't
    signify--the other committeemen ought to have helped me write it;
    they had nothing to do, and I had my hands full. But for bothering
    with this I would have caught up entirely with my New York Tribune
    correspondence and nearly up with the San Francisco.

They wanted him also to read the address to the Emperor, but he pointed
out that the American consul was the proper person for that office. He
tells how the address was presented:

August 26th. The Imperial carriages were in waiting at eleven, and at
twelve we were at the palace....

The Consul for Odessa read the address and the Czar said frequently,
"Good--very good; indeed"--and at the close, "I am very, very grateful."

It was not improper for him to set down all this, and much more, in his
own note-book--not then for publication. It was in fact a very proper
record--for today.

One incident of the imperial audience Mark Twain omitted from his book,
perhaps because the humor of it had not yet become sufficiently evident.
"The humorous perception of a thing is a pretty slow growth sometimes,"
he once remarked. It was about seventeen years before he could laugh
enjoyably at a slight mistake he made at the Emperor's reception. He set
down a memorandum of it, then, for fear it might be lost:

    There were a number of great dignitaries of the Empire there, and
    although, as a general thing, they were dressed in citizen's
    clothing, I observed that the most of them wore a very small piece
    of ribbon in the lapels of their coats. That little touch of color
    struck my fancy, and it seemed to me a good idea to add it to my own
    attractions; not imagining that it had any special significance. So
    I stepped aside, hunted up a bit of red ribbon, and ornamented my
    lapel with it. Presently, Count Festetics, the Grand Master of
    ceremonies, and the only man there who was gorgeously arrayed, in
    full official costume, began to show me a great many attentions. He
    was particularly polite, and pleasant, and anxious to be of service
    to me. Presently, he asked me what order of nobility I belonged to?
    I said, "I didn't belong to any." Then he asked me what order of
    knighthood I belonged to? I said, "None." Then he asked me what
    the red ribbon in my buttonhole stood for? I saw, at once, what an
    ass I had been making of myself, and was accordingly confused and
    embarrassed. I said the first thing that came into my mind, and
    that was that the ribbon was merely the symbol of a club of
    journalists to which I belonged, and I was not pursued with any more
    of Count Festetic's attentions.

    Later, I got on very familiar terms with an old gentleman, whom I
    took to be the head gardener, and walked him all about the gardens,
    slipping my arm into his without invitation, yet without demur on
    his part, and by and by was confused again when I found that he was
    not a gardener at all, but the Lord High Admiral of Russia! I
    almost made up my mind that I would never call on an Emperor again.

Like all Mediterranean excursionists, those first pilgrims were
insatiable collectors of curios, costumes, and all manner of outlandish
things. Dan Slote had the stateroom hung and piled with such gleanings.
At Constantinople his room-mate writes:

    I thought Dan had got the state-room pretty full of rubbish at last,
    but awhile ago his dragoman arrived with a brand-new ghastly
    tombstone of the Oriental pattern, with his name handsomely carved
    and gilted on it in Turkish characters. That fellow will buy a
    Circassian slave next.

It was Church, Denny, Jack, Davis, Dan, Moult, and Mark Twain who made
the "long trip" through Syria from Beirut to Jerusalem with their
elaborate camping outfit and decrepit nags "Jericho," "Baalbec," and the
rest. It was better camping than that Humboldt journey of six years
before, though the horses were not so dissimilar, and altogether it was a
hard, nerve-racking experience, climbing the arid hills of Palestine in
that torrid summer heat. Nobody makes that trip in summer-time now.
Tourists hurry out of Syria before the first of April, and they do not go
back before November. One brief quotation from Mark Twain's book gives
us an idea of what that early party of pilgrims had to undergo:

    We left Damascus at noon and rode across the plain a couple of
    hours, and then the party stopped a while in the shade of some fig-
    trees to give me a chance to rest. It was the hottest day we had
    seen yet--the sun-flames shot down like the shafts of fire that
    stream out before a blow-pipe; the rays seemed to fall in a deluge
    on the head and pass downward like rain from a roof. I imagined I
    could distinguish between the floods of rays. I thought I could
    tell when each flood struck my head, when it reached my shoulders,
    and when the next one came. It was terrible.

He had been ill with cholera at Damascus, a light attack; but any attack
of that dread disease is serious enough. He tells of this in the book,
but he does not mention, either in the book or in his notes, the attack
which Dan Slote had some days later. It remained for William F. Church,
of the party, to relate that incident, for it was the kind of thing that
Mark Twain was not likely to record, or even to remember. Doctor Church
was a deacon with orthodox views and did not approve of Mark Twain; he
thought him sinful, irreverent, profane.

"He was the worst man I ever knew," Church said; then he added, "And the
best."

What happened was this: At the end of a terrible day of heat, when the
party had camped on the edge of a squalid Syrian village, Dan was taken
suddenly ill. It was cholera, beyond doubt. Dan could not go on--he
might never go on. The chances were that way. It was a serious matter
all around. To wait with Dan meant to upset their travel schedule--it
might mean to miss the ship. Consultation was held and a resolution
passed (the pilgrims were always passing resolutions) to provide for Dan
as well as possible, and leave him behind. Clemens, who had remained
with Dan, suddenly appeared and said:

"Gentlemen, I understand that you are going to leave Dan Slote here
alone. I'll be d---d if I do!"

And he didn't. He stayed there and brought Dan into Jerusalem, a few
days late, but convalescent.

Perhaps most of them were not always reverent during that Holy Land trip.
It was a trying journey, and after fierce days of desert hills the
reaction might not always spare even the holiest memories. Jack was
particularly sinful. When they learned the price for a boat on Galilee,
and the deacons who had traveled nearly half around the world to sail on
that sacred water were confounded by the charge, Jack said:

"Well, Denny, do you wonder now that Christ walked?"

It was the irreverent Jack who one morning (they had camped the night
before by the ruins of Jericho) refused to get up to see the sun rise
across the Jordan. Deacon Church went to his tent.

"Jack, my boy, get up. Here is the place where the Israelites crossed
over into the Promised Land, and beyond are the mountains of Moab, where
Moses lies buried."

"Moses who!" said Jack.

"Oh, Jack, my boy, Moses, the great lawgiver--who led the Israelites out
of Egypt-forty years through the wilderness--to the Promised Land."

"Forty years!" said Jack. "How far was it?"

"It was three hundred miles, Jack; a great wilderness, and he brought
them through in safety."

Jack regarded him with scorn. "Huh, Moses--three hundred miles forty
years--why, Ben Holiday would have brought them through in thirty-six
hours!"--[Ben Holiday, owner of the Overland stages, and a man of great
executive ability. This incident, a true one, is more elaborately told
in Roughing It, but it seems pertinent here.]

Jack probably learned more about the Bible during that trip-its history
and its heroes-than during all his former years. Nor was Jack the only
one of that group thus benefited. The sacred landmarks of Palestine
inspire a burning interest in the Scriptures, and Mark Twain probably did
not now regret those early Sunday-school lessons; certainly he did not
fail to review them exhaustively on that journey. His note-books fairly
overflow with Bible references; the Syrian chapters in The Innocents
Abroad are permeated with the poetry and legendary beauty of the Bible
story. The little Bible he carried on that trip, bought in
Constantinople, was well worn by the time they reached the ship again at
Jaffa. He must have read it with a large and persistent interest; also
with a double benefit. For, besides the knowledge acquired, he was
harvesting a profit--probably unsuspected at the time---viz., the
influence of the most direct and beautiful English--the English of the
King James version--which could not fail to affect his own literary
method at that impressionable age. We have already noted his earlier
admiration for that noble and simple poem, "The Burial of Moses," which
in the Palestine note-book is copied in full. All the tendency of his
expression lay that way, and the intense consideration of stately Bible
phrase and imagery could hardly fail to influence his mental processes.
The very distinct difference of style, as shown in The Innocents Abroad
and in his earlier writings, we may believe was in no small measure due
to his study of the King James version during those weeks in Palestine.

He bought another Bible at Jerusalem; but it was not for himself. It was
a little souvenir volume bound in olive and balsam wood, and on the
fly-leaf is inscribed:

    Mrs. Jane Clemens from her son. Jerusalem, Sept. 24, 1867.

There is one more circumstance of that long cruise-recorded neither in
the book nor the notes--an incident brief, but of more importance in the
life of Samuel Clemens than any heretofore set down. It occurred in the
beautiful Bay of Smyrna, on the fifth or sixth of September, while the
vessel lay there for the Ephesus trip.

Reference has been made to young Charles Langdon, of Elmira (the
"Charley" once mentioned in the Innocents), as an admirer of Mark Twain.
There was a good deal of difference in their ages, and they were seldom
of the same party; but sometimes the boy invited the journalist to his
cabin and, boy-like, exhibited his treasures. He had two sisters at
home; and of Olivia, the youngest, he had brought a dainty miniature done
on ivory in delicate tints--a sweet-pictured countenance, fine and
spiritual. On that fateful day in the day of Smyrna, Samuel Clemens,
visiting in young Langdon's cabin, was shown this portrait. He looked at
it with long admiration, and spoke of it reverently, for the delicate
face seemed to him to be something more than a mere human likeness. Each
time he came, after that, he asked to see the picture, and once even
begged to be allowed to take it away with him. The boy would not agree
to this, and the elder man looked long and steadily at the miniature,
resolving in his mind that some day he would meet the owner of that
lovely face--a purpose for once in accord with that which the fates had
arranged for him, in the day when all things were arranged, the day of
the first beginning.




LXII

THE RETURN OF THE PILGRIMS

The last note-book entry bears date of October 11th:

    At sea, somewhere in the neighborhood of Malta. Very stormy.

    Terrible death to be talked to death. The storm has blown two small
    land birds and a hawk to sea and they came on board. Sea full of
    flying-fish.

That is all. There is no record of the week's travel in Spain, which a
little group of four made under the picturesque Gibraltar guide, Benunes,
still living and quite as picturesque at last accounts. This side-trip
is covered in a single brief paragraph in the Innocents, and the only
account we have of it is in a home letter, from Cadiz, of October 24th:

    We left Gibraltar at noon and rode to Algeciras (4 hours), thus
    dodging the quarantine--took dinner, and then rode horseback all
    night in a swinging trot, and at daylight took a caleche (a-wheeled
    vehicle), and rode 5 hours--then took cars and traveled till twelve
    at night. That landed us at Seville, and we were over the hard part
    of our trip and somewhat tired. Since then we have taken things
    comparatively easy, drifting around from one town to another and
    attracting a good deal of attention--for I guess strangers do not
    wander through Andalusia and the other southern provinces of Spain
    often. The country is precisely what it was when Don Quixote and
    Sancho Panza were possible characters.

    But I see now what the glory of Spain must have been when it was
    under Moorish domination. No, I will not say that--but then when
    one is carried away, infatuated, entranced, with the wonders of the
    Alhambra and the supernatural beauty of the Alcazar, he is apt to
    overflow with admiration for the splendid intellects that created
    them.

We may wish that he had left us a chapter of that idyllic journey, but it
will never be written now. A night or two before the vessel reached New
York there was the usual good-by assembly, and for this occasion, at Mrs.
Severance's request, Mark Twain wrote some verses. They were not
especially notable, for meter and rhyme did not come easy to him, but one
prophetic stanza is worth remembering. In the opening lines the
passengers are referred to as a fleet of vessels, then follows:

       Lo! other ships of that parted fleet
       Shall suffer this fate or that:
       One shall be wrecked, another shall sink,
       Or ground on treacherous flat.
       Some shall be famed in many lands
       As good ships, fast and fair,
       And some shall strangely disappear,
       Men know not when or where.

The Quaker City returned to America on November 19, 1867, and Mark Twain
found himself, if not famous, at least in very wide repute. The
fifty-three letters to the Alta and the half-dozen to the New York
Tribune had carried his celebrity into every corner of the States and
Territories. Vivid, fearless, full of fresh color, humor, poetry, they
came as a revelation to a public weary of the driveling, tiresome
travel-letters of that period. They preached a new gospel in
travel-literature: the gospel of seeing with an overflowing honesty; a
gospel of sincerity in according praises to whatever seemed genuine, and
ridicule to the things considered sham. It was the gospel that Mark
Twain would continue to preach during his whole career. It became his
chief literary message to the world-a world waiting for that message.

Moreover, the letters were literature. He had received, from whatever
source, a large and very positive literary impulse, a loftier conception
and expression. It was at Tangier that he first struck the grander
chord, the throbbing cadence of human story.

Here is a crumbling wall that was old when Columbus discovered America;
old when Peter the Hermit roused the knightly men of the Middle Ages to
arm for the first Crusade; old when Charlemagne and his paladins
beleaguered enchanted castles and battled with giants and genii in the
fabled days of the olden time; old when Christ and his disciples walked
the earth; stood where it stands to-day when the lips of Memnon were
vocal and men bought and sold in the streets of ancient Thebes.

This is pure poetry. He had never touched so high a strain before, but
he reached it often after that, and always with an ever-increasing
mastery and confidence. In Venice, in Rome, in Athens, through the Holy
Land, his retrospection becomes a stately epic symphony, a processional
crescendo that swings ever higher until it reaches that sublime strain,
the ageless contemplation of the Sphinx. We cannot forego a paragraph or
two of that word-picture:

    After years of waiting it was before me at last. The great face was
    so sad, so earnest, so longing, so patient. There was a dignity not
    of earth in its mien, and in its countenance a benignity such as
    never anything human wore. It was stone, but it seemed sentient.
    If ever image of stone thought, it was thinking. It was looking
    toward the verge of the landscape, yet looking at nothing--nothing
    but distance and vacancy. It was looking over and beyond everything
    of the present, and far into the past.... It was thinking of the
    wars of the departed ages; of the empires it had seen created and
    destroyed; of the nations whose birth it had witnessed, whose
    progress it had watched, whose annihilation it had noted; of the joy
    and sorrow, the life and death, the grandeur and decay, of five
    thousand slow-revolving years . . . .

    The Sphinx is grand in its loneliness; it is imposing in its
    magnitude; it is impressive in the mystery that hangs over its
    story. And there is that in the overshadowing majesty of this
    eternal figure of stone, with its accusing memory of the deeds of
    all ages, which reveals to one something of what we shall feel when
    we shall stand at last in the awful presence of God.

Then that closing word of Egypt. He elaborated it for the book, and did
not improve it. Let us preserve here its original form.

    We are glad to have seen Egypt. We are glad to have seen that old
    land which taught Greece her letters--and through Greece, Rome--and
    through Rome, the world--that venerable cradle of culture and
    refinement which could have humanized and civilized the Children of
    Israel, but allowed them to depart out of her borders savages--those
    Children whom we still revere, still love, and whose sad
    shortcomings we still excuse--not because they were savages, but
    because they were the chosen savages of God.

The Holy Land letters alone would have brought him fame. They presented
the most graphic and sympathetic picture of Syrian travel ever written
--one that will never become antiquated or obsolete so long as human
nature remains unchanged. From beginning to end the tale is rarely,
reverently told. Its closing paragraph has not been surpassed in the
voluminous literature of that solemn land:

    Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of
    a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies.
    Where Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers that solemn
    sea now floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing
    exists--over whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs
    motionless and dead--about whose borders nothing grows but weeds and
    scattering tufts of cane, and that treacherous fruit that promises
    refreshment to parching lips, but turns to ashes at the touch.
    Nazareth is forlorn; about that ford of Jordan where the hosts of
    Israel entered the Promised Land with songs of rejoicing one finds
    only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins of the desert; Jericho the
    accursed lies a moldering ruin today, even as Joshua's miracle left
    it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in
    their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to
    remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Saviour's
    presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks
    by night, and where the angels sang Peace on earth, goodwill to men,
    is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature
    that is pleasant to the eye. Renowned Jerusalem itself, the
    stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and
    is become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer
    there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the
    wonderful temple which was the pride and the glory of Israel is
    gone, and the Ottoman crescent is lifted above the spot where, on
    that most memorable day in the annals of the world, they reared the
    Holy Cross. The noted Sea of Galilee, where Roman fleets once rode
    at anchor and the disciples of the Saviour sailed in their ships,
    was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce, and its
    borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a shapeless ruin;
    Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin have
    vanished from the earth, and the "desert places" round about them
    where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour's voice and ate
    the miraculous bread sleep in the hush of a solitude that is
    inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes.

    Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise?
    Can the curse of the Deity beautify a land?

It would be easy to quote pages here--a pictorial sequence from Gibraltar
to Athens, from Athens to Egypt, a radiant panoramic march. In time he
would write technically better. He would avoid solecism, he would become
a greater master of vocabulary and phrase, but in all the years ahead he
would never match the lambent bloom and spontaneity of those fresh, first
impressions of Mediterranean lands and seas. No need to mention the
humor, the burlesque, the fearless, unrestrained ridicule of old masters
and of sacred relics, so called. These we have kept familiar with much
repetition. Only, the humor had grown more subtle, more restrained; the
burlesque had become impersonal and harmless, the ridicule so frank and
good-natured, that even the old masters themselves might have enjoyed it,
while the most devoted churchman, unless blinded by bigotry, would find
in it satisfaction, rather than sacrilege.

The final letter was written for the New York Herald after the arrival,
and was altogether unlike those that preceded it. Gaily satirical and
personal--inclusively so--it might better have been left unwritten, for
it would seem to have given needless offense to a number of goodly
people, whose chief sin was the sedateness of years. However, it is all
past now, and those who were old then, and perhaps queer and pious and
stingy, do not mind any more, and those who were young and frivolous have
all grown old too, and most of them have set out on the still farther
voyage. Somewhere, it may be, they gather, now; and then, and lightly,
tenderly recall their old-time journeying.




LXIII

IN WASHINGTON--A PUBLISHING PROPOSITION

Clemens remained but one day in New York. Senator Stewart had written,
about the time of the departure of the Quaker City, offering him the
position of private secretary--a position which was to give him leisure
for literary work, with a supporting salary as well. Stewart no doubt
thought it would be considerably to his advantage to have the brilliant
writer and lecturer attached to his political establishment, and Clemens
likewise saw possibilities in the arrangement. From Naples, in August,
he had written accepting Stewart's offer; he lost no time now in
discussing the matter in person.--[In a letter home, August 9th, he
referred to the arrangement: "I wrote to Bill Stewart to-day accepting
his private secretaryship in Washington, next winter."]

There seems to have been little difficulty in concluding the arrangement.
When Clemens had been in Washington a week we find him writing:

    DEAR FOLKS, Tired and sleepy--been in Congress all day and making
    newspaper acquaintances. Stewart is to look up a clerkship in the
    Patent Office for Orion. Things necessarily move slowly where there
    is so much business and such armies of office-seekers to be attended
    to. I guess it will be all right. I intend it shall be all right.

    I have 18 invitations to lecture, at $100 each, in various parts
    of the Union--have declined them all. I am for business now.

    Belong on the Tribune Staff, and shall write occasionally. Am
    offered the same berth to-day on the Herald by letter. Shall write
    Mr. Bennett and accept, as soon as I hear from Tribune that it will
    not interfere. Am pretty well known now--intend to be better known.
    Am hobnobbing with these old Generals and Senators and other humbugs
    for no good purpose. Don't have any more trouble making friends
    than I did in California. All serene. Good-by. Shall continue on
    the Alta.
                     Yours affectionately,
                                   SAM.

    P.S.--I room with Bill Stewart and board at Willard's Hotel.

But the secretary arrangement was a brief matter. It is impossible to
conceive of Mark Twain as anybody's secretary, especially as the
secretary of Senator Stewart.

--[In Senator Stewart's memoirs he refers unpleasantly to Mark Twain, and
after relating several incidents that bear only strained relations to the
truth, states that when the writer returned from the Holy Land he
(Stewart) offered him a secretaryship as a sort of charity. He adds that
Mark Twain's behavior on his premises was such that a threat of a
thrashing was necessary. The reason for such statements becomes
apparent, however, when he adds that in 'Roughing It' the author accuses
him of cheating, prints a picture of him with a hatch over his eye, and
claims to have given him a sound thrashing, none of which statements,
save only the one concerning the picture (an apparently unforgivable
offense to his dignity), is true, as the reader may easily ascertain for
himself.]

Within a few weeks he was writing humorous accounts of "My Late
Senatorial Secretaryship," "Facts Concerning the Recent Resignation,"
etc., all good-natured burlesque, but inspired, we may believe, by the
change: These articles appeared in the New York Tribune, the New York
Citizen, and the Galaxy Magazine.

There appears to have been no ill-feeling at this time between Clemens
and Stewart. If so, it is not discoverable in any of the former's
personal or newspaper correspondence. In fact, in his article relating
to his "late senatorial secretaryship" he puts the joke, so far as it is
a joke, on Senator James W. Nye, probably as an additional punishment for
Nye's failure to appear on the night of his lecture. He established
headquarters with a brilliant newspaper correspondent named Riley. "One
of the best men in Washington--or elsewhere," he tells us in a brief
sketch of that person.--[See Riley, newspaper correspondent. Sketches
New and Old.]--He had known Riley in San Francisco; the two were
congenial, and settled down to their several undertakings.

Clemens was chiefly concerned over two things: he wished to make money
and he wished to secure a government appointment for Orion. He had used
up the most of his lecture accumulations, and was moderately in debt. His
work was in demand at good rates, for those days, and with working
opportunity he could presently dispose of his financial problem. The
Tribune was anxious for letters; the Enterprise and Alta were waiting for
them; the Herald, the Chicago Tribune, the magazines--all had solicited
contributions; the lecture bureaus pursued him. Personally his outlook
was bright.

The appointment for Orion was a different matter. The powers were not
especially interested in a brother; there were too many brothers and
assorted relatives on the official waiting-list already. Clemens was
offered appointments for himself--a consulship, a post-mastership; even
that of San Francisco. From the Cabinet down, the Washington political
contingent had read his travel-letters, and was ready to recognize
officially the author of them in his own person and personality.

Also, socially: Mark Twain found himself all at once in the midst of
receptions, dinners, and speech-making; all very exciting for a time at
least, but not profitable, not conducive to work. At a dinner of the
Washington Correspondents Club his response to the toast, "Women," was
pronounced by Schuyler Colfax to be "the best after dinner speech ever
made." Certainly it was a refreshing departure from the prosy or
clumsy-witted efforts common to that period. He was coming altogether
into his own.--[This is the first of Mark Twain's after-dinner speeches
to be preserved. The reader will find it complete, as reported next day,
in Appendix G, at the end of last volume.]

He was not immediately interested in the matter of book publication. The
Jumping Frog book was popular, and in England had been issued by
Routledge; but the royalty returns were modest enough and slow in
arrival. His desire was for prompter results. His interest in book
publication had never been an eager one, and related mainly to the
advertising it would furnish, which he did not now need; or to the money
return, in which he had no great faith. Yet at this very moment a letter
for him was lying in the Tribune office in New York which would bring the
book idea into first prominence and spell the beginning of his fortune.

Among those who had read and found delight in the Tribune letters was
Elisha Bliss, Jr., of the American Publishing Company, of Hartford. Bliss
was a shrewd and energetic man, with a keen appreciation for humor and
the American fondness for that literary quality. He had recently
undertaken the management of a Hartford concern, and had somewhat alarmed
its conservative directorate by publishing books that furnished
entertainment to the reader as well as moral instruction. Only his
success in paying dividends justified this heresy and averted his
downfall. Two days after the arrival of the Quaker City Bliss wrote the
letter above mentioned. It ran as follows:

                  OFFICE OF THE AMERICAN PUBLISHING CO.
                  HARTFORD, CONN., November 21, 1867.

SAMUEL L. CLEMENS, ESQ., Tribune Office, New York.

DEAR SIR,--We take the liberty to address you this, in place of a letter
which we had recently written and were about to forward to you, not
knowing your arrival home was expected so soon. We are desirous of
obtaining from you a work of some kind, perhaps compiled from your
letters from the past, etc., with such interesting additions as may be
proper. We are the publishers of A. D. Richardson's works, and flatter
ourselves that we can give an author a favorable term and do as full
justice to his productions as any other house in the country. We are
perhaps the oldest subscription house in the country, and have never
failed to give a book an immense circulation. We sold about 100,000
copies of Richardson's F. D. and E. ('Field, Dungeon and Escape'), and
are now printing 41,000 of 'Beyond the Mississippi', and large orders
ahead. If you have any thought of writing a book, or could be induced to
do so, we should be pleased to see you, and will do so. Will you do us
the favor of reply at once, at your earliest convenience.

                         Very truly etc.,

                            E. BLISS, JR.,
                            Secretary.

After ten days' delay this letter was forwarded to the Tribune bureau in
Washington, where Clemens received it. He replied promptly.

                     WASHINGTON, December 2, 1867.

E. BLISS, JR., ESQ., Secretary American Publishing Co.

DEAR SIR,--I only received your favor of November 21st last night, at the
rooms of the Tribune Bureau here. It was forwarded from the Tribune
office, New York where it had lain eight or ten days. This will be a
sufficient apology for the seeming discourtesy of my silence.

I wrote fifty-two letters for the San Francisco Alta California during
the Quaker City excursion, about half of which number have been printed
thus far. The Alta has few exchanges in the East, and I suppose scarcely
any of these letters have been copied on this side of the Rocky
Mountains. I could weed them of their chief faults of construction and
inelegancies of expression, and make a volume that would be more
acceptable in many respects than any I could now write. When those
letters were written my impressions were fresh, but now they have lost
that freshness; they were warm then, they are cold now. I could strike
out certain letters, and write new ones wherewith to supply their places.
If you think such a book would suit your purpose, please drop me a line,
specifying the size and general style of the volume--when the matter
ought to be ready; whether it should have pictures in it or not; and
particularly what your terms with me would be, and what amount of money I
might possibly make out of it. The latter clause has a degree of
importance for me which is almost beyond my own comprehension. But you
understand that, of course.

I have other propositions for a book, but have doubted the propriety of
interfering with good newspaper engagements, except my way as an author
could be demonstrated to be plain before me. But I know Richardson, and
learned from him some months ago something of an idea of the subscription
plan of publishing. If that is your plan invariably it looks safe.

I am on the New York Tribune staff here as an "occasional," among other
things, and a note from you addressed to
              Very truly, etc.,
                         SAM. L. CLEMENS,
                         New York Tribune Bureau, Washington
will find me, without fail.

The exchange of those two letters marked the beginning of one of the most
notable publishing connections in American literary history.

Consummation, however, was somewhat delayed. Bliss was ill when the
reply came, and could not write again in detail until nearly a month
later. In this letter he recited the profits made by Richardson and
others through subscription publication, and named the royalties paid.
Richardson had received four per cent. of the sale price, a small enough
rate for these later days; but the cost of manufacture was larger then,
and the sale and delivery of books through agents has ever been an
expensive process. Even Horace Greeley had received but a fraction more
on his Great American Conflict. Bliss especially suggested and
emphasized a "humorous work--that is to say, a work humorously inclined."
He added that they had two arrangements for paying authors: outright
purchase, and royalty. He invited a meeting in New York to arrange
terms.




LXIV

OLIVIA LANGDON

Clemens did in fact go to New York that same evening, to spend Christmas
with Dan Slote, and missed Bliss's second letter. It was no matter. Fate
had his affairs properly in hand, and had prepared an event of still
larger moment than the publication even of Innocents Abroad. There was a
pleasant reunion at Dan Slote's. He wrote home about it:

    Charley Langdon, Jack Van Nostrand, Dan and I (all Quaker City
    night-hawks) had a blow-out at Dan's house and a lively talk over
    old times. I just laughed till my sides ached at some of our
    reminiscences. It was the unholiest gang that ever cavorted through
    Palestine, but those are the best boys in the world.

This, however, was not the event; it was only preliminary to it. We are
coming to that now. At the old St. Nicholas Hotel, which stood on the
west of Broadway between Spring and Broome streets, there were stopping
at this time Jervis Langdon, a wealty coal-dealer and mine-owner of
Elmira, his son Charles and his daughter Olivia, whose pictured face
Samuel Clemens had first seen in the Bay of Smyrna one September day.
Young Langdon had been especially anxious to bring his distinguished
Quaker City friend and his own people together, and two days before
Christmas Samuel Clemens was invited to dine at the hotel. He went very
willingly. The lovely face of that miniature had been often a part of his
waking dreams. For the first time now he looked upon its reality. Long
afterward he said:

"It is forty years ago. From that day to this she has never been out of
my mind."

Charles Dickens was in New York then, and gave a reading that night in
Steinway Hall. The Langdons went, and Samuel Clemens accompanied them.
He remembered afterward that Dickens wore a black velvet coat with a
fiery red flower in his buttonhole, and that he read the storm scene from
Copperfield--the death of James Steerforth. But he remembered still more
clearly the face and dress of that slender girlish figure at his side.

Olivia Langdon was twenty-two years old at this time, delicate as the
miniature he had seen, fragile to look upon, though no longer with the
shattered health of her girlhood. At sixteen, through a fall upon the
ice, she had become a complete invalid, confined to her bed for two
years, unable to sit, even when supported, unable to lie in any position
except upon her back. Great physicians and surgeons, one after another,
had done their best for her but she had failed steadily until every hope
had died. Then, when nothing else was left to try, a certain Doctor
Newton, of spectacular celebrity, who cured by "laying on of hands," was
brought to Elmira to see her. Doctor Newton came into the darkened room
and said:

"Open the windows--we must have light!"

They protested that she could not bear the light, but the windows were
opened. Doctor Newton came to the bedside of the helpless girl,
delivered a short, fervent prayer, put his arm under her shoulders, and
bade her sit up. She had not moved for two years, and the family were
alarmed, but she obeyed, and he assisted her into a chair. Sensation
came back to her limbs. With his assistance she even made a feeble
attempt to walk. He left then, saying that she would gradually improve,
and in time be well, though probably never very strong. On the same day
he healed a boy, crippled and drawn with fever.

It turned out as he had said. Olivia Langdon improved steadily, and now
at twenty-two, though not robust--she was never that--she was
comparatively well. Gentle, winning, lovable, she was the family idol,
and Samuel Clemens joined in their worship from the moment of that first
meeting.

Olivia Langdon, on her part, was at first dazed and fascinated, rather
than attracted, by this astonishing creature, so unlike any one she had
ever known. Her life had been circumscribed, her experiences of a simple
sort. She had never seen anything resembling him before. Indeed, nobody
had. Somewhat carelessly, even if correctly, attired; eagerly, rather
than observantly, attentive; brilliant and startling, rather than
cultured, of speech--a blazing human solitaire, unfashioned, unset,
tossed by the drift of fortune at her feet. He disturbed rather than
gratified her. She sensed his heresy toward the conventions and forms
which had been her gospel; his bantering, indifferent attitude toward
life--to her always so serious and sacred; she suspected that he even
might have unorthodox views on matters of religion. When he had gone she
somehow had the feeling that a great fiery meteor of unknown portent had
swept across her sky.

To her brother, who was eager for her approval of his celebrity, Miss
Langdon conceded admiration. As for her father, he did not qualify his
opinion. With hearty sense of humor, and a keen perception of verity and
capability in men, Jervis Langdon accepted Samuel Clemens from the start,
and remained his stanch admirer and friend. Clemens left that night with
an invitation to visit Elmira by and by, and with the full intention of
going--soon. Fate, however, had another plan. He did not see Elmira for
the better part of a year.

He saw Miss Langdon again within the week. On New-Year's Day he set
forth to pay calls, after the fashion of the time--more lavish then than
now. Miss Langdon was receiving with Miss Alice Hooker, a niece of Henry
Ward Beecher, at the home of a Mrs. Berry; he decided to go there first.
With young Langdon he arrived at eleven o'clock in the morning, and they
did not leave until midnight. If his first impression upon Olivia
Langdon had been meteoric, it would seem that he must now have become to
her as a streaming comet that swept from zenith to horizon. One thing is
certain: she had become to him the single, unvarying beacon of his future
years. He visited Henry Ward Beecher on that trip and dined with him by
invitation. Harriet Beecher Stowe was present, and others of that
eminent family. Likewise his old Quaker City comrades, Moses S. and
Emma Beach. It was a brilliant gathering, a conclave of intellectual
gods--a triumph to be there for one who had been a printer-boy on the
banks of the Mississippi, and only a little while before a miner with
pick and shovel. It was gratifying to be so honored; it would be
pleasant to write home; but the occasion lacked something too
--everything, in fact--for when he ran his eye around the board the face
of the minature was not there.

Still there were compensations; inadequate, of course, but pleasant
enough to remember. It was Sunday evening and the party adjourned to
Plymouth Church. After services Mr. Beecher invited him to return home
with him for a quiet talk. Evidently they had a good time, for in the
letter telling of these things Samuel Clemens said: "Henry Ward Beecher
is a brick."




LXV

A CONTRACT WITH ELISHA BLISS, JR.

He returned to Washington without seeing Miss Langdon again, though he
would seem to have had permission to write--friendly letters. A little
later (it was on the evening of January 9th) he lectured in Washington
--on very brief notice indeed. The arrangement for his appearance had
been made by a friend during his absence--"a friend," Clemens declared
afterward, "not entirely sober at the time." To his mother he wrote:

I scared up a doorkeeper and was ready at the proper time, and by pure
good luck a tolerably good house assembled and I was saved. I hardly
knew what I was going to talk about, but it went off in splendid style.

The title of the lecture delivered was "The Frozen Truth"--"more truth in
the title than in the lecture," according to his own statement. What it
dealt with is not remembered now. It had to do with the Quaker City
trip, perhaps, and it seems to have brought a financial return which was
welcome enough. Subsequently he delivered it elsewhere; though just how
far the tour extended cannot be learned from the letters, and he had but
little memory of it in later years.

There was some further correspondence with Bliss, then about the 21st of
January (1868) Clemens made a trip to Hartford to settle the matter.
Bliss had been particularly anxious to meet him, personally and was a
trifle disappointed with his appearance. Mark Twain's traveling costume
was neither new nor neat, and he was smoking steadily a pipe of power.
His general make-up was hardly impressive.

Bliss's disturbance was momentary. Once he began to talk the rest did
not matter. He was the author of those letters, and Bliss decided that
personally he was even greater than they. The publisher, confined to his
home with illness, offered him the hospitality of his household. Also,
he made him two propositions: he would pay him ten thousand dollars cash
for his copyright, or he would pay five per cent. royalty, which was a
fourth more than Richardson had received. He advised the latter
arrangement.

Clemens had already taken advice and had discussed the project a good
deal with Richardson. The ten thousand dollars was a heavy temptation,
but he withstood it and closed on the royalty basis--"the best business
judgment I ever displayed," he was wont to declare. A letter written to
his mother and sister near the end of this Hartford stay is worth quoting
pretty fully here, for the information and "character" it contains. It
bears date of January 24th.

    This is a good week for me. I stopped in the Herald office, as I
    came through New York, to see the boys on the staff, and young James
    Gordon Bennett asked me to write twice a week, impersonally, for the
    Herald, and said if I would I might have full swing, and about
    anybody and everything I wanted to. I said I must have the very
    fullest possible swing, and he said, "All right." I said, "It's a
    contract--" and that settled that matter.

    I'll make it a point to write one letter a week anyhow. But the
    best thing that has happened is here. This great American
    Publishing Company kept on trying to bargain with me for a book till
    I thought I would cut the matter short by coming up for a talk. I
    met Henry Ward Beecher in Brooklyn, and with his usual whole-souled
    way of dropping his own work to give other people a lift when he
    gets a chance, he said: "Now, here, you are one of the talented men
    of the age--nobody is going to deny that--but in matters of business
    I don't suppose you know more than enough to come in when it rains.
    I'll tell you what to do and how to do it." And he did.

    And I listened well, and then came up here and made a splendid
    contract for a Quaker City book of 5 or 600 large pages, with
    illustrations, the manuscript to be placed in the publisher's hands
    by the middle of July.--[The contract was not a formal one. There
    was an exchange of letters agreeing to the terms, but no joint
    document was drawn until October 16 (1868).]--My percentage is to
    be a fourth more than they have ever paid any author except Greeley.
    Beecher will be surprised, I guess, when he hears this.

    These publishers get off the most tremendous editions of their books
    you can imagine. I shall write to the Enterprise and Alta every
    week, as usual, I guess, and to the Herald twice a week,
    occasionally to the Tribune and the magazines (I have a stupid
    article in the Galaxy, just issued), but I am not going to write to
    this and that and the other paper any more.

    I have had a tiptop time here for a few days (guest of Mr. Jno.
    Hooker's family--Beecher's relatives--in a general way of Mr. Bliss
    also, who is head of the publishing firm). Puritans are mighty
    straight-laced, and they won't let me smoke in the parlor, but the
    Almighty don't make any better people.

    I have to make a speech at the annual Herald dinner on the 6th of
    May.

So the book, which would establish his claim to a peerage in the literary
land, was arranged for, and it remained only to prepare the manuscript, a
task which he regarded as not difficult. He had only to collate the Alta
and Tribune letters, edit them, and write such new matter as would be
required for completeness.

Returning to Washington, he plunged into work with his usual terrific
energy, preparing the copy--in the mean time writing newspaper
correspondence and sketches that would bring immediate return. In
addition to his regular contributions, he entered into a syndicate
arrangement with John Swinton (brother of William Swinton, the historian)
to supply letters to a list of newspapers.

"I have written seven long newspaper letters and a short magazine article
in less than two days," he wrote home, and by the end of January he had
also prepared several chapters of his book.

The San Francisco post-mastership was suggested to him again, but he put
the temptation behind him. He refers to this more than once in his home
letters, and it is clear that he wavered.

    Judge Field said if I wanted the place he could pledge me the
    President's appointment, and Senator Corners said he would guarantee
    me the Senate's confirmation. It was a great temptation, but it
    would render it impossible to fill my book contract, and I had to
    drop the idea....

    And besides I did not want the office.

He made this final decision when he heard that the chief editor of the
Alta wanted the place, and he now threw his influence in that quarter. "I
would not take ten thousand dollars out of a friend's pocket," he said.

But then suddenly came the news from Goodman that the Alta publishers had
copyrighted his Quaker City letters and proposed getting them out in a
book, to reimburse themselves still further on their investment. This
was sharper than a serpent's tooth. Clemens got confirmation of the
report by telegraph. By the same medium he protested, but to no purpose.
Then he wrote a letter and sat down to wait. He reported his troubles to
Orion:

    I have made a superb contract for a book, and have prepared the
    first ten chapters of the sixty or eighty, but I will bet it never
    sees the light. Don't you let the folks at home hear that. That
    thieving Alta copyrighted the letters, and now shows no disposition
    to let me use them. I have done all I can by telegraph, and now
    await the final result by mail. I only charged them for 50 letters
    what (even in) greenbacks would amount to less than two thousand
    dollars, intending to write a good deal for high-priced Eastern
    papers, and now they want to publish my letters in book form
    themselves to get back that pitiful sum.

Orion was by this time back from Nevada, setting type in St. Louis. He
was full of schemes, as usual, and his brother counsels him freely. Then
he says:

    We chase phantoms half the days of our lives. It is well if we
    learn wisdom even then, and save the other half.

    I am in for it. I must go on chasing them, until I marry, then I am
    done with literature and all other bosh--that is, literature
    wherewith to please the general public.

    I shall write to please myself then.

He closes by saying that he rather expects to go with Anson Burlingame on
the Chinese embassy. Clearly he was pretty hopeless as to his book
prospects.

His first meeting with General Grant occurred just at this time. In one
of his home letters he mentions, rather airily, that he will drop in
someday on the General for an interview; and at last, through Mrs. Grant,
an appointment was made for a Sunday evening when the General would be at
home. He was elated with the prospect of an interview; but when he
looked into the imperturbable, square, smileless face of the soldier he
found himself, for the first time in his life, without anything
particular to say. Grant nodded slightly and waited. His caller wished
something would happen. It did. His inspiration returned.

"General," he said, "I seem to be a little embarrassed. Are you?"

That broke the ice. There were no further difficulties.--[Mark Twain has
variously related this incident. It is given here in accordance with the
letters of the period.]




LXVI

BACK TO SAN FRANCISCO

Reply came from the Alta, but it was not promising. It spoke rather
vaguely of prior arrangements and future possibilities. Clemens gathered
that under certain conditions he might share in the profits of the
venture. There was but one thing to do; he knew those people--some of
them--Colonel McComb and a Mr. McCrellish intimately. He must confer
with them in person.

He was weary of Washington, anyway. The whole pitiful machinery of
politics disgusted him. In his notebook he wrote:

    Whiskey is taken into the committee rooms in demijohns and carried
    out in demagogues.

And in a letter:

    This is a place to get a poor opinion of everybody in. There are
    some pitiful intellects in this Congress! There isn't one man in
    Washington in civil office who has the brains of Anson Burlingame,
    and I suppose if China had not seized and saved his great talents to
    the world this government would have discarded him when his time was
    up.--[Anson Burlingame had by this time become China's special
    ambassador to the nations.]

Furthermore, he was down on the climate of Washington. He decided to go
to San Francisco and see "those Alta thieves face to face." Then, if a
book resulted, he could prepare it there among friends. Also, he could
lecture.

He had been anxious to visit his people before sailing, but matters were
too urgent to permit delay. He obtained from Bliss an advance of royalty
and took passage, by way of Aspinwall, on the sidewheel steamer Henry
Chauncey, a fine vessel for those days. The name of Mark Twain was
already known on the isthmus, and when it was learned he had arrived on
the Chauncey a delegation welcomed him on the wharf, and provided him
with refreshments and entertainment. Mr. Tracy Robinson, a poet, long a
resident of that southern land, was one of the group. Beyond the isthmus
Clemens fell in again with his old captain, Ned Wakeman, who during the
trip told him the amazing dream that in due time would become Captain
Stormfield's Visit to Heaven. He made the first draft of this story soon
after his arrival in San Francisco, as a sort of travesty of Elizabeth
Stuart Phelps's Gates Ajar, then very popular. Clemens, then and later,
had a high opinion of Capt. Ned Wakeman's dream, but his story of it
would pass through several stages before finally reaching the light of
publication.--[Mr. John P. Vollmer, now of Lewiston, Idaho, a companion
of that voyage, writes of a card game which took place beyond the
isthmus. The notorious crippled gambler, "Smithy," figured in it, and it
would seem to have furnished the inspiration for the exciting story in
Chapter XXXVI of the Mississippi book.]

In San Francisco matters turned out as he had hoped. Colonel McComb was
his stanch friend; McCrellish and Woodward, the proprietors, presently
conceded that they had already received good value for the money paid.
The author agreed to make proper acknowledgments to the Alta in his
preface, and the matter was settled with friendliness all around.

The way was now clear, the book assured. First, however, he must provide
himself with funds. He delivered a lecture, with the Quaker City
excursion as his subject. On the 5th of May he wrote to Bliss:

I lectured here on the trip the other night; over $1,600 in gold in the
house; every seat taken and paid for before night.

He reports that he is steadily at work, and expects to start East with
the completed manuscript about the middle of June.

But this was a miscalculation. Clemens found that the letters needed
more preparation than he had thought. His literary vision and equipment
had vastly altered since the beginning of that correspondence. Some of
the chapters he rewrote; others he eliminated entirely. It required two
months of fairly steady work to put the big manuscript together.

Some of the new chapters he gave to Bret Harte for the Overland Monthly,
then recently established. Harte himself was becoming a celebrity about
this time. His "Luck of Roaring Camp" and "The Outcasts of Poker Flat,"
published in early numbers of the Overland, were making a great stir in
the East, arousing there a good deal more enthusiasm than in the magazine
office or the city of their publication. That these two friends, each
supreme in his own field, should have entered into their heritage so
nearly at the same moment, is one of the many seemingly curious
coincidences of literary history.

Clemens now concluded to cover his lecture circuit of two years before.
He was assured that it would be throwing away a precious opportunity not
to give his new lecture to his old friends. The result justified that
opinion. At Virginia, at Carson, and elsewhere he was received like a
returned conqueror. He might have been accorded a Roman triumph had
there been time and paraphernalia. Even the robbers had reformed, and
entire safety was guaranteed him on the Divide between Virginia and Gold
Hill. At Carson he called on Mrs. Curry, as in the old days, and among
other things told her how snow from the Lebanon Mountains is brought to
Damascus on the backs of camels.

"Sam," she said, "that's just one of your yarns, and if you tell it in
your lecture to-night I'll get right up and say so."

But he did tell it, for it was a fact; and though Mrs. Curry did not rise
to deny it she shook her finger at him in a way he knew.

He returned to San Francisco and gave one more lecture, the last he would
ever give in California. His preparatory advertising for that occasion
was wholly unique, characteristic of him to the last degree. It assumed
the form of a handbill of protest, supposed to have been issued by the
foremost citizens of San Francisco, urging him to return to the States
without inflicting himself further upon them. As signatures he made free
with the names of prominent individuals, followed by those of
organizations, institutions, "Various Benevolent Societies, Citizens on
Foot and Horseback, and fifteen hundred in the Steerage."

Following this (on the same bill) was his reply, "To the fifteen hundred
and others," in which he insisted on another hearing:

    I will torment the people if I want to.... It only costs the people
    $1 apiece, and if they can't stand it what do they stay here for?...
    My last lecture was not as fine as I thought it was, but I have
    submitted this discourse to several able critics, and they have
    pronounced it good. Now, therefore, why should I withhold it?

He promised positively to sail on the 6th of July if they would let him
talk just this once. Continuing, the handbill presented a second
protest, signed by the various clubs and business firms; also others
bearing variously the signatures of the newspapers, and the clergy,
ending with the brief word:

    You had better go.  Yours,  CHIEF OF POLICE.

All of which drollery concluded with his announcement of place and date
of his lecture, with still further gaiety at the end. Nothing short of a
seismic cataclysm--an earthquake, in fact--could deter a San Francisco
audience after that. Mark Twain's farewell address, given at the
Mercantile Library July 2 (1868), doubtless remains today the leading
literary event in San Francisco's history.--[Copy of the lecture
announcement, complete, will be found in Appendix H, at the end of last
volume.]

He sailed July 6th by the Pacific mail steamer Montana to Acapulco,
caught the Henry Chauncey at Aspinwall, reached New York on the 28th, and
a day or two later had delivered his manuscript at Hartford.

But a further difficulty had arisen. Bliss was having troubles himself,
this time, with his directors. Many reports of Mark Twain's new book had
been traveling the rounds of the press, some of which declared it was to
be irreverent, even blasphemous, in tone. The title selected, The New
Pilgrim's Progress, was in itself a sacrilege. Hartford was a
conservative place; the American Publishing Company directors were of
orthodox persuasion. They urged Bliss to relieve the company of this
impending disaster of heresy. When the author arrived one or more of
them labored with him in person, without avail. As for Bliss, he was
stanch; he believed in the book thoroughly, from every standpoint. He
declared if the company refused to print it he would resign the
management and publish the book himself. This was an alarming suggestion
to the stockholders. Bliss had returned dividends--a boon altogether too
rare in the company's former history. The objectors retired and were
heard of no more. The manuscript was placed in the hands of Fay and Cox,
illustrators, with an order for about two hundred and fifty pictures.

Fay and Cox turned it over to True Williams, one of the well-known
illustrators of that day. Williams was a man of great talent--of fine
imagination and sweetness of spirit--but it was necessary to lock him in
a room when industry was required, with nothing more exciting than cold
water as a beverage. Clemens himself aided in the illustrating by
obtaining of Moses S. Beach photographs from the large collection he had
brought home.




LXVII

A VISIT TO ELMIRA

Meantime he had skilfully obtained a renewal of the invitation to spend a
week in the Langdon home.

He meant to go by a fast train, but, with his natural gift for
misunderstanding time-tables, of course took a slow one, telegraphing his
approach from different stations along the road. Young Langdon concluded
to go down the line as far as Waverly to meet him. When the New York
train reached there the young man found his guest in the smoking-car,
travel-stained and distressingly clad. Mark Twain was always
scrupulously neat and correct of dress in later years, but in that
earlier day neatness and style had not become habitual and did not give
him comfort. Langdon greeted him warmly but with doubt. Finally he
summoned courage to say, hesitatingly--"You've got some other clothes,
haven't you?"

The arriving guest was not in the least disturbed.

"Oh yes," he said with enthusiasm, "I've got a fine brand-new outfit in
this bag, all but a hat. It will be late when we get in, and I won't see
any one to-night. You won't know me in the morning. We'll go out early
and get a hat."

This was a large relief to the younger man, and the rest of the journey
was happy enough. True to promise, the guest appeared at daylight
correctly, even elegantly clad, and an early trip to the shops secured
the hat. A gay and happy week followed--a week during which Samuel
Clemens realized more fully than ever that in his heart there was room
for only one woman in all the world: Olivia Langdon--"Livy," as they all
called her--and as the day of departure drew near it may be that the
gentle girl had made some discoveries, too.

No word had passed between them. Samuel Clemens had the old-fashioned
Southern respect for courtship conventions, and for what, in that day at
least, was regarded as honor. On the morning of the final day he said to
young Langdon:

"Charley, my week is up, and I must go home."

The young man expressed a regret which was genuine enough, though not
wholly unqualified. His older sister, Mrs. Crane, leaving just then for
a trip to the White Mountains, had said:

"Charley, I am sure Mr. Clemens is after our Livy. You mustn't let him
carry her off before our return."

The idea was a disturbing one. The young man did not urge his guest to
prolong his-visit. He said:

"We'll have to stand it, I guess, but you mustn't leave before to-night."

"I ought to go by the first train," Clemens said, gloomily. "I am in
love."

"In what!"

"In love-with your sister, and I ought to get away from here."

The young man was now very genuinely alarmed. To him Mark Twain was a
highly gifted, fearless, robust man--a man's man--and as such altogether
admirable--lovable. But Olivia--Livy--she was to him little short of a
saint. No man was good enough for her, certainly not this adventurous
soldier of letters from the West. Delightful he was beyond doubt,
adorable as a companion, but not a companion for Livy.

"Look here, Clemens," he said, when he could get his voice. "There's a
train in half an hour. I'll help you catch it. Don't wait till
to-night. Go now."

Clemens shook his head.

"No, Charley," he said, in his gentle drawl, "I want to enjoy your
hospitality a little longer. I promise to be circumspect, and I'll go
to-night."

That night, after dinner, when it was time to take the New York train, a
light two-seated wagon was at the gate. The coachman was in front, and
young Langdon and his guest took the back seat. For some reason the seat
had not been locked in its place, and when, after the good-bys, the
coachman touched the horse it made a quick spring forward, and the back
seat, with both passengers, described a half-circle and came down with
force on the cobbled street. Neither passenger was seriously hurt;
Clemens not at all--only dazed a little for a moment. Then came an
inspiration; here was a chance to prolong his visit. Evidently it was
not intended that he should take that train. When the Langdon household
gathered around with restoratives he did not recover too quickly. He
allowed them to support or carry him into the house and place him in an
arm-chair and apply remedies. The young daughter of the house especially
showed anxiety and attention. This was pure happiness. He was perjuring
himself, of course, but they say Jove laughs at such things.

He recovered in a day or two, but the wide hospitality of the handsome
Langdon home was not only offered now; it was enforced. He was still
there two weeks later, after which he made a trip to Cleveland to confide
in Mrs. Fairbanks how he intended to win Livy Langdon for his wife.




LXVIII

THE REV. "JOE" TWICHELL

He returned to Hartford to look after the progress of his book. Some of
it was being put into type, and with his mechanical knowledge of such
things he was naturally interested in the process.

He made his headquarters with the Blisses, then living at 821 Asylum
Avenue, and read proof in a little upper room, where the lamp was likely
to be burning most of the time, where the atmosphere was nearly always
blue with smoke, and the window-sill full of cigar butts. Mrs. Bliss
took him into the quiet social life of the neighborhood--to small church
receptions, society gatherings and the like--all of which he seemed to
enjoy. Most of the dwellers in that neighborhood were members of the
Asylum Hill Congregational Church, then recently completed; all but the
spire. It was a cultured circle, well-off in the world's goods, its male
members, for the most part, concerned in various commercial ventures.

The church stood almost across the way from the Bliss home, and Mark
Twain, with his picturesque phrasing, referred to it as the "stub-tailed
church," on account of its abbreviated spire; also, later, with a
knowledge of its prosperous membership, as the "Church of the Holy
Speculators." He was at an evening reception in the home of one of its
members when he noticed a photograph of the unfinished building framed
and hanging on the wall.

"Why, yes," he commented, in his slow fashion, "this is the 'Church of
the Holy Speculators.'"

"Sh," cautioned Mrs. Bliss. "Its pastor is just behind you. He knows
your work and wants to meet you." Turning, she said: "Mr. Twichell, this
is Mr. Clemens. Most people know him as Mark Twain."

And so, in this casual fashion, he met the man who was presently to
become his closest personal friend and counselor, and would remain so for
more than forty years.

Joseph Hopkins Twichell was a man about his own age, athletic and
handsome, a student and a devout Christian, yet a man familiar with the
world, fond of sports, with an exuberant sense of humor and a wide
understanding of the frailties of humankind. He had been "port waist
oar" at Yale, and had left college to serve with General "Dan" Sickles as
a chaplain who had followed his duties not only in the camp, but on the
field.

Mention has already been made of Mark Twain's natural leaning toward
ministers of the gospel, and the explanation of it is easier to realize
than to convey. He was hopelessly unorthodox--rankly rebellious as to
creeds. Anything resembling cant or the curtailment of mental liberty
roused only his resentment and irony. Yet something in his heart always
warmed toward any laborer in the vineyard, and if we could put the
explanation into a single sentence, perhaps we might say it was because
he could meet them on that wide, common ground sympathy with mankind.
Mark Twain's creed, then and always, may be put into three words,
"liberty, justice, humanity." It may be put into one word, "humanity."

Ministers always loved Mark Twain. They did not always approve of him,
but they adored him: The Rev. Mr. Rising, of the Comstock, was an early
example of his ministerial friendships, and we have seen that Henry Ward
Beecher cultivated his company. In a San Francisco letter of two years
before, Mark Twain wrote his mother, thinking it would please her:

I am as thick as thieves with the Reverend Stebbins. I am laying for the
Reverend Scudder and the Reverend Doctor Stone. I am running on
preachers now altogether, and I find them gay.

So it may be that his first impulse toward Joseph Twichell was due to the
fact that he was a young member of that army whose mission is to comfort
and uplift mankind. But it was only a little time till the impulse had
grown into a friendship that went beyond any profession or doctrine, a
friendship that ripened into a permanent admiration and love for "Joe"
Twichell himself, as one of the noblest specimens of his race.

He was invited to the Twichell home, where he met the young wife and got
a glimpse of the happiness of that sweet and peaceful household. He had
a neglected, lonely look, and he loved to gather with them at their
fireside. He expressed his envy of their happiness, and Mrs. Twichell
asked him why, since his affairs were growing prosperous, he did not
establish a household of his own. Long afterward Mr. Twichell wrote:

    Mark made no answer for a little, but, with his eyes bent on the
    floor, appeared to be deeply pondering. Then he looked up, and said
    slowly, in a voice tremulous with earnestness (with what sympathy he
    was heard may be imagined): "I am taking thought of it. I am in
    love beyond all telling with the dearest and best girl in the whole
    world. I don't suppose she will marry me. I can't think it
    possible. She ought not to. But if she doesn't I shall be sure
    that the best thing I ever did was to fall in love with her, and
    proud to have it known that I tried to win her!"

It was only a brief time until the Twichell fireside was home to him. He
came and went, and presently it was "Mark" and "Joe," as by and by it
would be "Livy" and "Harmony," and in a few years "Uncle Joe" and "Uncle
Mark," "Aunt Livy" and "Aunt Harmony," and so would remain until the
end.




LXIX

A LECTURE TOUR

James Redpath, proprietor of the Boston Lyceum Bureau, was the leading
lecture agent of those days, and controlled all, or nearly all, of the
platform celebrities. Mark Twain's success at the Cooper Union the year
before had interested Redpath. He had offered engagements then and
later, but Clemens had not been free for the regular circuit. Now there
was no longer a reason for postponement of a contract. Redpath was eager
for the new celebrity, and Clemens closed with him for the season of
1868-9. With his new lecture, "The Vandal Abroad," he was presently
earning a hundred dollars and more a night, and making most of the nights
count.

This was affluence indeed. He had become suddenly a person of
substance-an associate of men of consequence, with a commensurate income.
He could help his mother lavishly now, and he did.

His new lecture was immensely popular. It was a resume of the 'Quaker
City' letters--a foretaste of the book which would presently follow.
Wherever he went, he was hailed with eager greetings. He caught such
drifting exclamations as, "There he is! There goes Mark Twain!" People
came out on the street to see him pass. That marvelous miracle which we
variously call "notoriety," "popularity," "fame," had come to him. In
his notebook he wrote, "Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident; the
only, earthly certainty oblivion."

The newspapers were filled with enthusiasm both as to his matter and
method. His delivery was described as a "long, monotonous drawl, with
the fun invariably coming in at the end of a sentence--after a pause."
His appearance at this time is thus set down:

    Mark Twain is a man of medium height, about five feet ten, sparsely
    built, with dark reddish-brown hair and mustache. His features are
    fair, his eyes keen and twinkling. He dresses in scrupulous evening
    attire. In lecturing he hangs about the desk, leaning on it or
    flirting around the corners of it, then marching and countermarching
    in the rear of it. He seldom casts a glance at his manuscript.

No doubt this fairly presents Mark Twain, the lecturer of that day. It
was a new figure on the platform, a man with a new method. As to his
manuscript, the item might have said that he never consulted it at all.
He learned his lecture; what he consulted was merely a series of
hieroglyphics, a set of crude pictures drawn by himself, suggestive of
the subject-matter underneath new head. Certain columns represented the
Parthenon; the Sphinx meant Egypt, and so on. His manuscript lay there
in case of accident, but the accident did not happen.

A number of his engagements were in the central part of New York, at
points not far distant from Elmira. He had a standing invitation to
visit the Langdon home, and he made it convenient to avail himself of
that happiness.

His was not an unruffled courtship. When at last he reached the point of
proposing for the daughter of the house, neither the daughter nor the
household offered any noticeable encouragement to his suit. Many absurd
anecdotes have been told of his first interview with Mr. Langdon on the
subject, but they are altogether without foundation. It was a proper and
dignified discussion of a very serious matter. Mr. Langdon expressed
deep regard for him and friendship but he was not inclined to add him to
the family; the young lady herself, in a general way, accorded with these
views. The applicant for favor left sadly enough, but he could not
remain discouraged or sad. He lectured at Cleveland with vast success,
and the news of it traveled quickly to Elmira. He was referred to by
Cleveland papers as a "lion" and "the coming man of the age." Two days
later, in Pittsburgh (November 19th), he "played" against Fanny Kemble,
the favorite actress of that time, with the result that Miss Kemble had
an audience of two hundred against nearly ten times the number who
gathered to hear Mark Twain. The news of this went to Elmira, too. It
was in the papers there next morning; surely this was a conquering hero
--a gay Lochinvar from out of the West--and the daughter of the house
must be guarded closely, that he did not bear her away. It was on the
second morning following the Pittsburgh triumph, when the Langdon family
were gathered at breakfast, that a bushy auburn head poked fearfully in
at the door, and a low, humble voice said:

"The calf has returned; may the prodigal have some breakfast?"

No one could be reserved or reprovingly distant, or any of those
unfriendly things with a person like that; certainly not Jervis Langdon,
who delighted in the humor and the tricks and turns and oddities of this
eccentric visitor. Giving his daughter to him was another matter, but
even that thought was less disturbing than it had been at the start. In
truth, the Langdon household had somehow grown to feel that he belonged
to them. The elder sister's husband, Theodore Crane, endorsed him fully.
He had long before read some of the Mark Twain sketches that had traveled
eastward in advance of their author, and had recognized, even in the
crudest of them, a classic charm. As for Olivia Langdon's mother and
sister, their happiness lay in hers. Where her heart went theirs went
also, and it would appear that her heart, in spite of herself, had found
its rightful keeper. Only young Langdon was irreconciled, and eventually
set out for a voyage around the world to escape the situation.

There was only a provisional engagement at first. Jervis Langdon
suggested, and Samuel Clemens agreed with him, that it was proper to know
something of his past, as well as of his present, before the official
parental sanction should be given. When Mr. Langdon inquired as to the
names of persons of standing to whom he might write for credentials,
Clemens pretty confidently gave him the name of the Reverend Stebbins and
others of San Francisco, adding that he might write also to Joe Goodman
if he wanted to, but that he had lied for Goodman a hundred times and
Goodman would lie for him if necessary, so his testimony would be of no
value. The letters to the clergy were written, and Mr. Langdon also
wrote one on his own account.

It was a long mail-trip to the Coast and back in those days. It might be
two months before replies would come from those ministers. The lecturer
set out again on his travels, and was radiantly and happily busy. He
went as far west as Illinois, had crowded houses in Chicago, visited
friends and kindred in Hannibal, St. Louis, and Keokuk, carrying the
great news, and lecturing in old familiar haunts.




LXX

INNOCENTS AT HOME--AND "THE INNOCENTS ABROAD"

He was in Jacksonville, Illinois, at the end of January (1869), and in a
letter to Bliss states that he will be in Elmira two days later, and asks
that proofs of the book be sent there. He arrived at the Langdon home,
anxious to hear the reports that would make him, as the novels might say,
"the happiest or the most miserable of men." Jervis Langdon had a rather
solemn look when they were alone together. Clemens asked:

"You've heard from those gentlemen out there?"

"Yes, and from another gentleman I wrote concerning you."

"They don't appear to have been very enthusiastic, from your manner."

"Well, yes, some of them were."

"I suppose I may ask what particular form their emotion took?"

"Oh yes, yes; they agree unanimously that you are a brilliant, able man,
a man with a future, and that you would make about the worst husband on
record."

The applicant for favor had a forlorn look.

"There's nothing very evasive about that," he said:

There was a period of reflective silence. It was probably no more than a
few seconds, but it seemed longer.

"Haven't you any other friend that you could suggest?" Langdon said.

"Apparently none whose testimony would be valuable."

Jervis Langdon held out his hand. "You have at least one," he said. "I
believe in you. I know you better than they do."

And so came the crown of happiness. The engagement of Samuel Langhorne
Clemens and Olivia Lewis Langdon was ratified next day, February 4, 1869.

But if the friends of Mark Twain viewed the idea of the marriage with
scant favor, the friends of Miss Langdon regarded it with genuine alarm.
Elmira was a conservative place--a place of pedigree and family
tradition; that a stranger, a former printer, pilot, miner, wandering
journalist and lecturer, was to carry off the daughter of one of the
oldest and wealthiest families, was a thing not to be lightly permitted.
The fact that he had achieved a national fame did not count against other
considerations. The social protest amounted almost to insurrection, but
it was not availing. The Langdon family had their doubts too, though of
a different sort. Their doubts lay in the fear that one, reared as their
daughter had been, might be unable to hold a place as the wife of this
intellectual giant, whom they felt that the world was preparing to honor.
That this delicate, sheltered girl could have the strength of mind and
body for her position seemed hard to believe. Their faith overbore such
questionings, and the future years proved how fully it was justified.

To his mother Samuel Clemens wrote:

    She is only a little body, but she hasn't her peer in Christendom.
    I gave her only a plain gold engagement ring, when fashion
    imperatively demands a two-hundred-dollar diamond one, and told her
    it was typical of her future life-namely, that she would have to
    flourish on substance, rather than luxuries (but you see I know the
    girl--she don't care anything about luxuries).... She spends no
    money but her astral year's allowance, and spends nearly every cent
    of that on other people. She will be a good, sensible little wife,
    without any airs about her. I don't make intercession for her
    beforehand, and ask you to love her, for there isn't any use in
    that--you couldn't help it if you were to try. I warn you that
    whoever comes within the fatal influence of her beautiful nature is
    her willing slave forevermore.

To Mrs. Crane, absent in March, her father wrote:

    DEAR SUE,--I received your letter yesterday with a great deal of
    pleasure, but the letter has gone in pursuit of one S. L. Clemens,
    who has been giving us a great deal of trouble lately. We cannot
    have a joy in our family without a feeling, on the part of the
    little incorrigible in our family, that this wanderer must share it,
    so, as soon as read, into her pocket and off upstairs goes your
    letter, and in the next two minutes into the mail, so it is
    impossible for me now to refer to it, or by reading it over gain an
    inspiration in writing you. . .

Clemens closed his lecture tour in March, acid went immediately to
Elmira. He had lectured between fifty and sixty times, with a return of
something more than $8,000, not a bad aggregate for a first season on the
circuit. He had planned to make a spring tour to California, but the
attraction at Elmira was of a sort that discouraged distant travel.
Furthermore, he disliked the platform, then and always. It was always a
temptation to him because of its quick and abundant return, but it was
none the less distasteful. In a letter of that spring he wrote:

    I most cordially hate the lecture field. And after all, I shudder
    to think I may never get out of it. In all conversation with Gough,
    and Anna Dickinson, Nasby, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Wendell Phillips,
    and the other old stagers, I could not observe that they ever
    expected or hoped to get out of the business. I don't want to get
    wedded to it as they are.

He declined further engagements on the excuse that he must attend to
getting out his book. The revised proofs were coming now, and he and
gentle Livy Langdon read them together. He realized presently that with
her sensitive nature she had also a keen literary perception. What he
lacked in delicacy--and his lack was likely to be large enough in that
direction--she detected, and together they pruned it away. She became
his editor during those happy courtship days--a position which she held
to her death. The world owed a large debt of gratitude to Mark Twain's
wife, who from the very beginning--and always, so far as in her strength
she was able--inspired him to give only his worthiest to the world,
whether in written or spoken word, in counsel or in deed. Those early
days of their close companionship, spiritual and mental, were full of
revelation to Samuel Clemens, a revelation that continued from day to
day, and from year to year, even to the very end.

The letter to Bliss and the proofs were full of suggested changes that
would refine and beautify the text. In one of them he settles the
question of title, which he says is to be:

                  THE INNOCENTS ABROAD
                         or
                THE NEW PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

and we may be sure that it was Olivia Langdon's voice that gave the
deciding vote for the newly adopted chief title, which would take any
suggestion of irreverence out of the remaining words.

The book was to have been issued in the spring, but during his wanderings
proofs had been delayed, and there was now considerable anxiety about it,
as the agencies had become impatient for the canvass. At the end of
April Clemens wrote: "Your printers are doing well. I will hurry the
proofs"; but it was not until the early part of June that the last
chapters were revised and returned. Then the big book, at last
completed, went to press on an edition of twenty thousand, a large number
for any new book, even to-day.

In later years, through some confusion of circumstance, Mark Twain was
led to believe that the publication of The Innocents Abroad was long and
unnecessarily delayed. But this was manifestly a mistake. The book went
to press in June. It was a big book and a large edition. The first copy
was delivered July 20 (1869), and four hundred and seventeen bound
volumes were shipped that month. Even with the quicker mechanical
processes of to-day a month or more is allowed for a large book between
the final return of proofs and the date of publication. So it is only
another instance of his remembering, as he once quaintly put it, "the
thing that didn't happen."--[In an article in the North American Review
(September 21, 1906) Mr. Clemens stated that he found it necessary to
telegraph notice that he would bring suit if the book was not immediately
issued. In none of the letters covering this period is there any
suggestion of delay on the part of the publishers, and the date of the
final return of proofs, together with the date of publication, preclude
the possibility of such a circumstance. At some period of his life he
doubtless sent, or contemplated sending, such a message, and this fact,
through some curious psychology, became confused in his mind with the
first edition of The Innocents Abroad.]




LXXI

THE GREAT BOOK OF TRAVEL

'The Innocents Abroad' was a success from the start. The machinery for
its sale and delivery was in full swing by August 1, and five thousand
one hundred and seventy copies were disposed of that month--a number that
had increased to more than thirty-one thousand by the first of the year.
It was a book of travel; its lowest price was three and a half dollars.
No such record had been made by a book of that description; none has
equaled it since.--[One must recall that this was the record only up to
1910. D.W.]

If Mark Twain was not already famous, he was unquestionably famous now.
As the author of The New Pilgrim's Progress he was swept into the domain
of letters as one riding at the head of a cavalcade--doors and windows
wide with welcome and jubilant with applause. Newspapers chorused their
enthusiasm; the public voiced universal approval; only a few of the more
cultured critics seemed hesitant and doubtful.

They applauded--most of them--but with reservation. Doctor Holland
regarded Mark Twain as a mere fun maker of ephemeral popularity, and was
not altogether pleasant in his dictum. Doctor Holmes, in a letter to the
author, speaks of the "frequently quaint and amusing conceits," but does
not find it in his heart to refer to the book as literature. It was
naturally difficult for the East to concede a serious value to one who
approached his subject with such militant aboriginality, and occasionally
wrote "those kind." William Dean Howells reviewed the book in the
Atlantic, which was of itself a distinction, whether the review was
favorable or otherwise. It was favorable on the whole, favorable to the
humor of the book, its "delicious impudence," the charm of its
good-natured irony. The review closed:

    It is no business of ours to fix his rank among the humorists
    California has given us, but we think he is, in an entirely
    different way from all the others, quite worthy of the company of
    the best.

This is praise, but not of an intemperate sort, nor very inclusive. The
descriptive, the poetic, the more pretentious phases of the book did not
receive attention. Mr. Howells was perhaps the first critic of eminence
to recognize in Mark Twain not only the humorist, but the supreme
genius-the "Lincoln of our literature." This was later. The public--the
silent public--with what Howells calls "the inspired knowledge of the
simple-hearted multitude," reached a similar verdict forthwith. And on
sufficient evidence: let the average unprejudiced person of to-day take
up the old volume and read a few chapters anywhere and decide whether it
is the work of a mere humorist, or also of a philosopher, a poet, and a
seer. The writer well remembers a little group of "the simple-hearted
multitude" who during the winter of '69 and '70 gathered each evening to
hear the Innocents read aloud, and their unanimous verdict that it was
the "best book of modern times."

It was the most daring book of its day. Passages of it were calculated
to take the breath of the orthodox reader; only, somehow, it made him
smile, too. It was all so good-natured, so openly sincere. Without
doubt it preached heresy--the heresy of viewing revered landmarks and
relics joyously, rather than lugubriously; reverentially, when they
inspired reverence; satirically, when they invited ridicule, and with
kindliness always.

The Innocents Abroad is Mark Twain's greatest book of travel. The
critical and the pure in speech may object to this verdict. Brander
Matthews regards it second to A Tramp Abroad, the natural viewpoint of
the literary technician. The 'Tramp' contains better usage without
doubt, but it lacks the "color" which gives the Innocents its perennial
charm. In the Innocents there is a glow, a fragrance, a romance of
touch, a subtle something which is idyllic, something which is not quite
of reality, in the tale of that little company that so long ago sailed
away to the harbors of their illusions beyond the sea, and, wandered
together through old palaces and galleries, and among the tombs of the
saints, and down through ancient lands. There is an atmosphere about it
all, a dream-like quality that lies somewhere in the telling, maybe, or
in the tale; at all events it is there, and the world has felt it ever
since. Perhaps it could be defined in a single word, perhaps that word
would be "youth." That the artist, poor True Williams, felt its
inspiration is certain. We may believe that Williams was not a great
draftsman, but no artist ever caught more perfectly the light and spirit
of the author's text. Crude some of the pictures are, no doubt, but they
convey the very essence of the story; they belong to it, they are a part
of it, and they ought never to perish. 'A Tramp Abroad' is a rare book,
but it cannot rank with its great predecessor in human charm. The
public, which in the long run makes mistakes, has rendered that verdict.
The Innocents by far outsells the Tramp, and, for that matter, any other
book of travel.



THE PURCHASE OF A PAPER.

It is curious to reflect that Mark Twain still did not regard himself as
a literary man. He had no literary plans for the future; he scarcely
looked forward to the publication of another book. He considered himself
a journalist; his ambition lay in the direction of retirement in some
prosperous newspaper enterprise, with the comforts and companionship of a
home. During his travels he had already been casting about for a
congenial and substantial association in newspaperdom, and had at one
time considered the purchase of an interest in the Cleveland Herald. But
Buffalo was nearer Elmira, and when an opportunity offered, by which he
could acquire a third interest in the Buffalo Express for $25,000, the
purchase was decided upon. His lack of funds prompted a new plan for a
lecture tour to the Pacific coast, this time with D. R. Locke (Nasby),
then immensely popular, in his lecture "Cussed Be Canaan."

Clemens had met Nasby on the circuit, and was very fond of him. The two
had visited Boston together, and while there had called on Doctor Holmes;
this by the way. Nasby was fond of Clemens too, but doubtful about the
trip-doubtful about his lecture:

    Your proposition takes my breath away. If I had my new lecture
    completed I wouldn't hesitate a moment, but really isn't "Cussed Be
    Canaan" too old? You know that lemon, our African brother, juicy as
    he was in his day, has been squeezed dry. Why howl about his wrongs
    after said wrongs have been redressed? Why screech about the
    "damnable spirit of Cahst" when the victim thereof sits at the first
    table, and his oppressor mildly takes, in hash, what he leaves? You
    see, friend Twain, the Fifteenth Amendment busted "Cussed Be
    Canaan." I howled feelingly on the subject while it was a living
    issue, for I felt all that I said and a great deal more; but now
    that we have won our fight why dance frantically on the dead corpse
    of our enemy? The Reliable Contraband is contraband no more, but a
    citizen of the United States, and I speak of him no more.

    Give me a week to think of your proposition. If I can jerk a
    lecture in time I will go with you. The Lord knows I would like to.
    --[Nasby's lecture, "Cussed Be Canaan," opened, "We are all
    descended from grandfathers!" He had a powerful voice, and always
    just on the stroke of eight he rose and vigorously delivered this
    sentence. Once, after lecturing an entire season--two hundred and
    twenty-five nights--he went home to rest. That evening he sat,
    musingly drowsing by the fire, when the clock struck eight. Without
    a moment's thought Nasby sprang to his feet and thundered out, "We
    are all descended from grandfathers!"]

Nasby did not go, and Clemens's enthusiasm cooled at the prospect of
setting out alone on that long tour. Furthermore, Jervis Langdon
promptly insisted on advancing the money required to complete the
purchase of the Express, and the trade was closed.--[Mr. Langdon is just
as good for $25,000 for me, and has already advanced half of it in cash.
I wrote and asked whether I had better send him my note, or a due bill,
or how he would prefer to have the indebtedness made of record, and he
answered every other topic in the letter pleasantly, but never replied to
that at all. Still, I shall give my note into a hands of his business
agent here, and pay him the interest as it falls due.--S. L. C. to his
mother.]

The Buffalo Express was at this time in the hands of three men--Col.
George F. Selkirk, J. L. Lamed, and Thomas A. Kennett. Colonel Selkirk
was business manager, Lamed was political editor. With the purchase of
Kennett's share Clemens became a sort of general and contributing editor,
with a more or less "roving commission"--his hours and duties not very
clearly defined. It was believed by his associates, and by Clemens
himself, that his known connection with the paper would give it prestige
and circulation, as Nasby's connection had popularized the Toledo Blade.
The new editor entered upon his duties August 14 (1869). The members of
the Buffalo press gave him a dinner that evening, and after the manner of
newspaper men the world over, were handsomely cordial to the "new enemy
in their midst."

There is an anecdote which relates that next morning, when Mark Twain
arrived in the Express office (it was then at 14 Swan Street), there
happened to be no one present who knew him. A young man rose very
bruskly and asked if there was any one he would like to see. It is
reported that he replied, with gentle deliberation:

"Well, yes, I should like to see some young man offer the new editor a
chair."

It is so like Mark Twain that we are inclined to accept it, though it
seems of doubtful circumstance. In any case it deserves to be true. His
"Salutatory" (August 18th) is sufficiently genuine:

    Being a stranger, it would be immodest for me to suddenly and
    violently assume the associate editorship of the Buffalo Express
    without a single word of comfort or encouragement to the unoffending
    patrons of the paper, who are about to be exposed to constant
    attacks of my wisdom and learning. But the word shall be as brief
    as possible. I only want to assure parties having a friendly
    interest in the prosperity of the journal that I am not going to
    hurt the paper deliberately and intentionally at any time. I am not
    going to introduce any startling reforms, nor in any way attempt to
    make trouble.... I shall not make use of slang and vulgarity upon
    any occasion or under any circumstances, and shall never use
    profanity except when discussing house rent and taxes. Indeed, upon
    a second thought, I shall not use it even then, for it is
    unchristian, inelegant, and degrading; though, to speak truly, I do
    not see how house rent and taxes are going to be discussed worth a
    cent without it. I shall not often meddle with politics, because we
    have a political Editor who is already excellent and only needs to
    serve a term or two in the penitentiary to be perfect. I shall not
    write any poetry unless I conceive a spite against the subscribers.

    Such is my platform. I do not see any use in it, but custom is law
    and must be obeyed.

John Harrison Mills, who was connected with the Express in those days,
has written:

    I cannot remember that there was any delay in getting down to his
    work. I think within five minutes the new editor had assumed the
    easy look of one entirely at home, pencil in hand and a clutch of
    paper before him, with an air of preoccupation, as of one intent on
    a task delayed. It was impossible to be conscious of the man
    sitting there, and not feel his identity with all that he had
    enjoyed, and the reminiscence of it he that seemed to radiate; for
    the personality was so absolutely in accord with all the record of
    himself and his work. I cannot say he seemed to be that vague thing
    they call a type in race or blood, though the word, if used in his
    case for temperament, would decidedly mean what they used to call
    the "sanguine."

    I thought that, pictorially, the noble costume of the Albanian would
    have well become him. Or he might have been a Goth, and worn the
    horned bull-pate helmet of Alaric's warriors; or stood at the prow
    of one of the swift craft of the Vikings. His eyes, which have been
    variously described, were, it seemed to me, of an indescribable
    depth of the bluish moss-agate, with a capacity of pupil dilation
    that in certain lights had the effect of a deep black....

Mr. Mills adds that in dress he was now "well groomed," and that
consequently they were obliged to revise their notions as to the careless
negligee which gossip had reported.--[From unpublished Reminiscences
kindly lent to the author by Mr. Mills]




LXXIII

THE FIRST MEETING WITH HOWELLS

Clemens' first period of editorial work was a brief one, though he made
frequent contributions to the paper: sketches, squibs, travel-notes, and
experiences, usually humorous in character. His wedding-day had been set
for early in the year, and it was necessary to accumulate a bank account
for that occasion. Before October he was out on the lecture circuit,
billed now for the first time for New England, nervous and apprehensive
in consequence, though with good hope. To Pamela he wrote (November
9th):

To-morrow night I appear for the first time before a Boston audience
--4,000 critics--and on the success of this matter depends my future
success in New England. But I am not distressed. Nasby is in the same
boat. Tonight decides the fate of his brand-new lecture. He has just
left my room--been reading his lecture to me--was greatly depressed. I
have convinced him that he has little to fear.

Whatever alarm Mark Twain may have felt was not warranted. His success
with the New England public was immediate and complete. He made his
headquarters in Boston, at Redpath's office, where there was pretty sure
to be a congenial company, of which he was presently the center.

It was during one of these Boston sojourns that he first met William Dean
Howells, his future friend and literary counselor. Howells was assistant
editor of the Atlantic at this time; James T. Fields, its editor. Clemens
had been gratified by the Atlantic review, and had called to express his
thanks for it. He sat talking to Fields, when Howells entered the
editorial rooms, and on being presented to the author of the review,
delivered his appreciation in the form of a story, sufficiently
appropriate, but not qualified for the larger types.--[He said: "When I
read that review of yours, I felt like the woman who was so glad her baby
had come white."]

His manner, his humor, his quaint colloquial forms all delighted Howells
--more, in fact, than the opulent sealskin overcoat which he affected at
this period--a garment astonishing rather than esthetic, as Mark Twain's
clothes in those days of his first regeneration were likely to be
startling enough, we may believe; in the conservative atmosphere of the
Atlantic rooms. And Howells--gentle, genial, sincere--filled with the
early happiness of his calling, won the heart of Mark Twain and never
lost it, and, what is still more notable, won his absolute and unvarying
confidence in all literary affairs. It was always Mark Twain's habit to
rely on somebody, and in matters pertaining to literature and to literary
people in general he laid his burden on William Dean Howells from that
day. Only a few weeks after that first visit we find him telegraphing to
Howells, asking him to look after a Californian poet, then ill and
friendless in Brooklyn. Clemens states that he does not know the poet,
but will contribute fifty dollars if Howells will petition the steamboat
company for a pass; and no doubt Howells complied, and spent a good deal
more than fifty dollars' worth of time to get the poet relieved and
started; it would be like him.




LXXIV

THE WEDDING-DAY

The wedding was planned, at first, either for Christmas or New-Year's
Day; but as the lecture engagements continued into January it was decided
to wait until these were filled. February 2d, a date near the
anniversary of the engagement, was agreed upon, also a quiet wedding with
no "tour." The young people would go immediately to Buffalo, and take up
a modest residence, in a boardinghouse as comfortable, even as luxurious,
as the husband's financial situation justified. At least that was Samuel
Clemens's understanding of the matter. He felt that he was heavily in
debt--that his first duty was to relieve himself of that obligation.

There were other plans in Elmira, but in the daily and happy letters he
received there was no inkling of any new purpose.

He wrote to J. D. F. Slee, of Buffalo, who was associated in business
with Mr. Langdon, and asked him to find a suitable boarding-place, one
that would be sufficiently refined for the woman who was to be his wife,
and sufficiently reasonable to insure prosperity. In due time Slee
replied that, while boarding was a "miserable business anyhow," he had
been particularly fortunate in securing a place on one of the most
pleasant streets--"the family a small one and choice spirits, with no
predilection for taking boarders, and consenting to the present
arrangement only because of the anticipated pleasure of your company."
The price, Slee added, would be reasonable. As a matter of fact a house
on Delaware Avenue--still the fine residence street of Buffalo--had been
bought and furnished throughout as a present to the bride and groom. It
stands to-day practically unchanged--brick and mansard without, Eastlake
within, a type then much in vogue--spacious and handsome for that period.
It was completely appointed. Diagrams of the rooms had been sent to
Elmira and Miss Langdon herself had selected the furnishings. Everything
was put in readiness, including linen, cutlery, and utensils. Even the
servants had been engaged and the pantry and cellar had been stocked.

It must have been hard for Olivia Langdon to keep this wonderful surprise
out of those daily letters. A surprise like that is always watching a
chance to slip out unawares, especially when one is eagerly impatient to
reveal it.

However, the traveler remained completely in the dark. He may have
wondered vaguely at the lack of enthusiasm in the boarding idea, and
could he have been certain that the sales of the book would continue, or
that his newspaper venture would yield an abundant harvest, he might have
planned his domestic beginning on a more elaborate scale. If only the
Tennessee land would yield the long-expected fortune now! But these were
all incalculable things. All that he could be sure of was the coming of
his great happiness, in whatever environment, and of the dragging weeks
between.

At last the night of the final lecture came, and he was off for Elmira
with the smallest possible delay. Once there, the intervening days did
not matter. He could join in the busy preparations; he could write
exuberantly to his friends. To Laura Hawkins, long since Laura Frazer he
sent a playful line; to Jim Gillis, still digging and washing on the
slopes of the old Tuolumne hills, he wrote a letter which eminently
belongs here:

                     Elmira, N. Y., January 26, 1870.

    DEAR Jim,--I remember that old night just as well! And somewhere
    among my relics I have your remembrance stored away. It makes my
    heart ache yet to call to mind some of those days. Still it
    shouldn't, for right in the depths of their poverty and their
    pocket-hunting vagabondage lay the germ of my coming good fortune.
    You remember the one gleam of jollity that shot across our dismal
    sojourn in the rain and mud of Angel's Camp--I mean that day we sat
    around the tavern stove and heard that chap tell about the frog and
    how they filled him with shot. And you remember how we quoted from
    the yarn and laughed over it out there on the hillside while you and
    dear old Stoker panned and washed. I jotted the story down in my
    note-book that day, and would have been glad to get ten or fifteen
    dollars for it--I was just that blind. But then we were so hard up.
    I published that story, and it became widely known in America,
    India, China, England, and the reputation it made for me has paid me
    thousands and thousands of dollars since. Four or five months ago I
    bought into the Express (I have ordered it sent to you as long as
    you live, and if the bookkeeper sends you any bills you let me hear
    of it). I went heavily in debt--never could have dared to do that,
    Jim, if we hadn't heard the jumping Frog story that day.

    And wouldn't I love to take old Stoker by the hand, and wouldn't I
    love to see him in his great specialty, his wonderful rendition of
    Rinalds in the "Burning Shame!" Where is Dick and what is he doing?
    Give him my fervent love and warm old remembrances.

    A week from to-day I shall be married-to a girl even better and
    lovelier than the peerless "Chapparal Quails." You can't come so
    far, Jim, but still I cordially invite you to come anyhow, and I
    invite Dick too. And if you two boys were to land here on that
    pleasant occasion we would make you right royally welcome.
                     Truly your friend,
                                SAML. L. CLEMENS.

    P.S.---California plums are good. Jim, particularly when they are
    stewed.

It had been only five years before--that day in Angel's Camp--but how
long ago and how far away it seemed to him now! So much had happened
since then, so much of which that was the beginning--so little compared
with the marvel of the years ahead, whose threshold he was now about to
cross, and not alone.

A day or two before the wedding he was asked to lecture on the night of
February 2d. He replied that he was sorry to disappoint the applicant,
but that he could not lecture on the night of February 2d, for the reason
that he was going to marry a young lady on that evening, and that he
would rather marry that young lady than deliver all the lectures in the
world.

And so came the wedding-day. It began pleasantly; the postman brought a
royalty check that morning of $4,000, the accumulation of three months'
sales, and the Rev. Joseph Twichell and Harmony, his wife, came from
Hartford--Twichell to join with the Rev. Thomas K. Beecher in
solemnizing the marriage. Pamela Moffett, a widow now, with her daughter
Annie, grown to a young lady, had come all the way from St. Louis, and
Mrs. Fairbanks from Cleveland.

Yet the guests were not numerous, not more than a hundred at most, so it
was a quiet wedding there in the Langdon parlors, those dim, stately
rooms that in the future would hold so much of his history--so much of
the story of life and death that made its beginning there.

The wedding-service was about seven o'clock, for Mr. Beecher had a
meeting at the church soon after that hour. Afterward followed the
wedding-supper and dancing, and the bride's father danced with the bride.
To the interested crowd awaiting him at the church Mr. Beecher reported
that the bride was very beautiful, and had on the longest white gloves he
had ever seen; he declared they reached to her shoulders.--[Perhaps for a
younger generation it should be said that Thomas K. Beecher was a brother
of Henry Ward Beecher. He lived and died in Elmira, the almost worshiped
pastor of the Park Congregational Church. He was a noble, unorthodox
teacher. Samuel Clemens at the time of his marriage already strongly
admired him, and had espoused his cause in an article signed "S'cat!" in
the Elmira Advertiser, when he (Beecher) had been assailed by the more
orthodox Elmira clergy. For the "S'cat" article see Appendix I, at the
end of last volume.]

It was the next afternoon when they set out for Buffalo, accompanied by
the bride's parents, the groom's relatives, the Beechers, and perhaps one
or two others of that happy company. It was nine o'clock at night when
they arrived, and found Mr. Slee waiting at the station with sleighs to
convey the party to the "boarding-house" he had selected. They drove and
drove, and the sleigh containing the bride and groom got behind and
apparently was bound nowhere in particular, which disturbed the groom a
good deal, for he thought it proper that they should arrive first, to
receive their guests. He commented on Slee's poor judgment in selecting
a house that was so hard to find, and when at length they turned into
fashionable Delaware Avenue, and stopped before one of the most
attractive places in the neighborhood, he was beset with fear concerning
the richness of the locality.

They were on the steps when the doors opened, and a perfect fairyland of
lights and decoration was revealed within. The friends who had gone
ahead came out with greetings, to lead in the bride and groom. Servants
hurried forward to take bags and wraps. They were ushered inside; they
were led through beautiful rooms, all newly appointed and garnished. The
bridegroom was dazed, unable to understand the meaning of things, the
apparent ownership and completeness of possession.

At last the young wife put her hand upon his arm:

"Don't you understand, Youth," she said; that was always her name for
him. "Don't you understand? It is ours, all ours--everything--a gift
from father!"

But even then he could not grasp it; not at first, not until Mr. Langdon
brought a little box and, opening it, handed them the deeds.

Nobody quite remembers what was the first remark that Samuel Clemens made
then; but either then or a little later he said:

"Mr. Langdon, whenever you are in Buffalo, if it's twice a year, come
right here. Bring your bag and stay overnight if you want to. It
sha'n't cost you a cent!"

They went in to supper then, and by and by the guests were gone and the
young wedded pair were alone.

Patrick McAleer, the young coachman, who would grow old in their employ,
and Ellen, the cook, came in for their morning orders, and were full of
Irish delight at the inexperience and novelty of it all. Then they were
gone, and only the lovers in their new house and their new happiness
remained.

And so it was they entered the enchanted land.




LXXV

AS TO DESTINY

If any reader has followed these chapters thus far, he may have wondered,
even if vaguely, at the seeming fatality of events. Mark Twain had but
to review his own life for justification of his doctrine of inevitability
--an unbroken and immutable sequence of cause and effect from the
beginning. Once he said:

"When the first living atom found itself afloat on the great Laurentian
sea the first act of that first atom led to the second act of that first
atom, and so on down through the succeeding ages of all life, until, if
the steps could be traced, it would be shown that the first act of that
first atom has led inevitably to the act of my standing here in my
dressing-gown at this instant talking to you."

It seemed the clearest presentment ever offered in the matter of
predestined circumstance--predestined from the instant when that primal
atom felt the vital thrill. Mark Twain's early life, however imperfectly
recorded, exemplifies this postulate. If through the years still ahead
of us the course of destiny seems less clearly defined, it is only
because thronging events make the threads less easy to trace. The web
becomes richer, the pattern more intricate and confusing, but the line of
fate neither breaks nor falters, to the end.




LXXVI

ON THE BUFFALO "EXPRESS"

With the beginning of life in Buffalo, Mark Twain had become already a
world character--a man of large consequence and events. He had no proper
realization of this, no real sense of the size of his conquest; he still
regarded himself merely as a lecturer and journalist, temporarily
popular, but with no warrant to a permanent seat in the world's literary
congress. He thought his success something of an accident. The fact
that he was prepared to settle down as an editorial contributor to a
newspaper in what was then only a big village is the best evidence of a
modest estimate of his talents.

He "worked like a horse," is the verdict of those who were closely
associated with him on the Express. His hours were not regular, but they
were long. Often he was at his desk at eight in the morning, and
remained there until ten or eleven at night.

His working costume was suited to comfort rather than show. With coat,
vest, collar, and tie usually removed (sometimes even his shoes), he
lounged in his chair, in any attitude that afforded the larger ease,
pulling over the exchanges; scribbling paragraphs, editorials, humorous
skits, and what not, as the notion came upon him. J. L. Lamed, his
co-worker (he sat on the opposite side of the same table), remembers that
Mark Twain enjoyed his work as he went along--the humor of it--and that
he frequently laughed as some whimsicality or new absurdity came into his
mind.

"I doubt," writes Lamed, "if he ever enjoyed anything more than the
jackknife engraving that he did on a piece of board of a military map of
the siege of Paris, which was printed in the Express from his original
plate, with accompanying explanations and comments. His half-day of
whittling and laughter that went with it are something that I find
pleasant to remember. Indeed, my whole experience of association with
him is a happy memory, which I am fortunate in having.... What one saw
of him was always the actual Mark Twain, acting out of his own nature
simply, frankly, without pretense, and almost without reserve. It was
that simplicity and naturalness in the man which carried his greatest
charm."

Lamed, like many others, likens Mark Twain to Lincoln in various of his
characteristics. The two worked harmoniously together: Lamed attending
to the political direction of the journal, Clemens to the literary, and
what might be termed the sentimental side. There was no friction in the
division of labor, never anything but good feeling between them. Clemens
had a poor opinion of his own comprehension of politics, and perhaps as
little regard for Lamed's conception of humor. Once when the latter
attempted something in the way of pleasantry his associate said:

"Better leave the humor on this paper to me, Lamed"; and once when Lamed
was away attending the Republican State Convention at Saratoga, and some
editorial comment seemed necessary, Clemens thought it best to sign the
utterance, and to make humor of his shortcomings.

    I do not know much about politics, and am not sitting up nights to
    learn . . . .

    I am satisfied that these nominations are all right and sound, and
    that they are the only ones that can bring peace to our distracted
    country (the only political phrase I am perfectly familiar with and
    competent to hurl at the public with fearless confidence--the other
    editor is full of them), but being merely satisfied is not enough.
    I always like to know before I shout. But I go for Mr. Curtis with
    all my strength! Being certain of him, I hereby shout all I know
    how. But the others may be a split ticket, or a scratched ticket,
    or whatever you call it.

    I will let it alone for the present. It will keep. The other young
    man will be back to-morrow, and he will shout for it, split or no
    split, rest assured of that. He will prance into this political
    ring with his tomahawk and his war-whoop, and then you will hear a
    crash and see the scalps fly. He has none of my diffidence. He
    knows all about these nominees, and if he don't he will let on to in
    such a natural way as to deceive the most critical. He knows
    everything--he knows more than Webster's Unabridged and the American
    Encyclopedia--but whether he knows anything about a subject or not
    he is perfectly willing to discuss it. When he gets back he will
    tell you all about these candidates as serenely as if he had been
    acquainted with them a hundred years, though, speaking
    confidentially, I doubt if he ever heard of any of them till to-day.
    I am right well satisfied it is a good, sound, sensible ticket, and
    a ticket to win; but wait till he comes.

    In the mean time I go for George William Curtis and take the
    chances.
                                MARK TWAIN.

He had become what Mr. Howells calls entirely "desouthernized" by this
time. From having been of slaveholding stock, and a Confederate soldier,
he had become a most positive Republican, a rampant abolitionist--had
there been anything left to abolish. His sympathy had been always with
the oppressed, and he had now become their defender. His work on the
paper revealed this more and more. He wrote fewer sketches and more
editorials, and the editorials were likely to be either savage assaults
upon some human abuse, or fierce espousals of the weak. They were
fearless, scathing, terrific. Of some farmers of Cohocton, who had taken
the law into their own hands to punish a couple whom they believed to be
a detriment to the community, he wrote:

"The men who did that deed are capable of doing any low, sneaking,
cowardly villainy that could be invented in perdition. They are the very
bastards of the devil."

He appended a full list of their names, and added:

"If the farmers of Cohocton are of this complexion, what on earth must a
Cohocton rough be like?"

But all this happened a long time ago, and we need not detail those
various old interests and labors here. It is enough to say that Mark
Twain on the Express was what he had been from the beginning, and would
be to the end--the zealous champion of justice and liberty; violent and
sometimes wrong in his viewpoint, but never less than fearless and
sincere. Invariably he was for the oppressed. He had a natural instinct
for the right, but, right or wrong, he was for the under dog.

Among the best of his editorial contributions is a tribute to Anson
Burlingame, who died February 23, 1870, at St. Petersburg, on his trip
around the world as special ambassador for the Chinese Empire. In this
editorial Clemens endeavored to pay something of his debt to the noble
statesman. He reviewed Burlingame's astonishing career--the career which
had closed at forty-seven, and read like a fairy-tale-and he dwelt
lovingly on his hero's nobility of character. At the close he said:

"He was a good man, and a very, very great man. America, lost a son, and
all the world a servant, when he died."

Among those early contributions to the Express is a series called "Around
the World," an attempt at collaboration with Prof. D. R. Ford, who did
the actual traveling, while Mark Twain, writing in the first person, gave
the letters his literary stamp. At least some of the contributions were
written in this way, such as "Adventures in Hayti," "The Pacific," and
"Japan." These letters exist to-day only in the old files of the
Express, and indeed this is the case with most of Clemens's work for that
paper. It was mainly ephemeral or timely work, and its larger value has
disappeared. Here and there is a sentence worth remembering. Of two
practical jokers who sent in a marriage notice of persons not even
contemplating matrimony, he said: "This deceit has been practised
maliciously by a couple of men whose small souls will escape through
their pores some day if they do not varnish their hides."

Some of the sketches have been preserved. "Journalism in Tennessee," one
of the best of his wilder burlesques, is as enjoyable to-day as when
written. "A Curious Dream" made a lasting impression on his Buffalo
readers, and you are pretty certain to hear of it when you mention Mark
Twain in that city to-day. It vividly called attention to the neglect of
the old North Street graveyard. The gruesome vision of the ancestors
deserting with their coffins on their backs was even more humiliating
than amusing, and inspired a movement for reform. It has been effective
elsewhere since then, and may still be read with profit--or satisfaction
--for in a note at the end the reader is assured that if the cemeteries
of his town are kept in good order the dream is not leveled at his town
at all, but "particularly and venomously at the next town."




LXXVII

THE "GALAXY"

Mark Twain's work on the Express represented only a portion of his
literary activities during his Buffalo residence. The Galaxy, an
ambitious New York magazine of that day--[published by Sheldon & Co. at
498 and 500 Broadway]--proposed to him that he conduct for them a
humorous department. They would pay $2,400 a year for the work, and
allow him a free hand. There was some discussion as to book rights, but
the arrangement was concluded, and his first instalment, under the
general title of "Memoranda," appeared in the May number, 1870. In his
Introductory he outlined what the reader might expect, such as
"exhaustive statistical tables," "Patent Office reports," and "complete
instructions about farming, even from the grafting of the seed to the
harrowing of the matured crops." He declared that he would throw a
pathos into the subject of agriculture that would surprise and delight
the world. He added that the "Memoranda" was not necessarily a humorous
department.

    I would not conduct an exclusively and professedly humorous
    department for any one. I would always prefer to have the privilege
    of printing a serious and sensible remark, in case one occurred to
    me, without the reader's feeling obliged to consider himself
    outraged.... Puns cannot be allowed a place in this department....
    No circumstance, however dismal, will ever be considered a
    sufficient excuse for the admission of that last and saddest
    evidence of intellectual poverty, the pun.

The Galaxy was really a fine magazine, with the best contributors
obtainable; among them Justin McCarthy, S. M. B. Piatt, Richard Grant
White, and many others well known in that day, with names that still
flicker here and there in its literary twilight. The new department
appealed to Clemens, and very soon he was writing most of his sketches
for it. They were better literature, as a rule, than those published in
his own paper.

The first number of the "Memoranda" was fairly representative of those
that followed it. "The Facts in the Case of the Great Beef Contract," a
manuscript which he had undertaken three years before and mislaid, was
its initial contribution. Besides the "Beef Contract," there was a
tribute to George Wakeman, a well-known journalist of those days; a
stricture on the Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage, who had delivered from the
pulpit an argument against workingmen occupying pews in fashionable
churches; a presentment of the Chinese situation in San Francisco,
depicting the cruel treatment of the Celestial immigrant; a burlesque of
the Sunday-school "good little boy" story,--["The Story of the Good
Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper" and the "Beef Contract" are included in
Sketches New and Old; also the Chinese sketch, under the title,
"Disgraceful Persecution of a Boy."]--and several shorter skits--and
anecdotes, ten pages in all; a rather generous contract.

Mark Twain's comment on Talmage was prompted by an article in which
Talmage had assumed the premise that if workingmen attended the churches
it would drive the better class of worshipers away. Among other things
he said:

    I have a good Christian friend who, if he sat in the front pew in
    church, and a workingman should enter the door at the other end,
    would smell him instantly. My friend is not to blame for the
    sensitiveness of his nose, any more than you would flog a pointer
    for being keener on the scent than a stupid watch-dog. The fact is,
    if you had all the churches free, by reason of the mixing of the
    common people with the uncommon, you would keep one-half of
    Christendom sick at their stomach. If you are going to kill the
    church thus with bad smells I will have nothing to do with this work
    of evangelization.

Commenting on this Mark Twain said--well, he said a good deal more than
we have room for here, but a portion of his closing paragraphs is worth
preserving. He compares the Reverend Mr. Talmage with the early
disciples of Christ--Paul and Peter and the others; or, rather, he
contrasts him with them.

    They healed the very beggars, and held intercourse with people of a
    villainous odor every day. If the subject of these remarks had been
    chosen among the original Twelve Apostles he would not have
    associated with the rest, because he could not have stood the fishy
    smell of some of his comrades who came from around the Sea of
    Galilee. He would have resigned his commission with some such
    remark as he makes in the extract quoted above: "Master, if thou art
    going to kill the church thus with bad smells I will have nothing to
    do with this work of evangelization." He is a disciple, and makes
    that remark to the Master; the only difference is that he makes it
    in the nineteenth instead of the first century.

Talmage was immensely popular at this time, and Mark Twain's open attack
on him must have shocked a good many Galaxy readers, as perhaps his
article on the Chinese cruelties offended the citizens of San Francisco.
It did not matter. He was not likely to worry over the friends he would
lose because of any stand taken for human justice. Lamed said of him:
"He was very far from being one who tried in any way to make himself
popular." Certainly he never made any such attempt at the expense of his
convictions.

The first Galaxy instalment was a sort of platform of principles for the
campaign that was to follow. Not that each month's contribution
contained personal criticism, or a defense of the Chinese (of whom he was
always the champion as long as he lived), but a good many of them did. In
the October number he began a series of letters under the general title
of "Goldsmith's Friend Abroad Again," supposed to have been written by a
Chinese immigrant in San Francisco, detailing his experience there. In a
note the author says: "No experience is set down in the following letters
which had to be invented. Fancy is not needed to give variety to the
history of the Chinaman's sojourn in America. Plain fact is amply
sufficient." The letters show how the supposed Chinese writer of them
had set out for America, believing it to be a land whose government was
based on the principle that all men are created equal, and treated
accordingly; how, upon arriving in San Francisco, he was kicked and
bruised and beaten, and set upon by dogs, flung into jail, tried and
condemned without witnesses, his own race not being allowed to testify
against Americans--Irish-Americans--in the San Francisco court. They are
scathing, powerful letters, and one cannot read them, even in this day of
improved conditions, without feeling the hot waves of resentment and
indignation which Mark Twain must have felt when he penned them.

Reverend Mr. Talmage was not the only divine to receive attention in the
"Memoranda." The Reverend Mr. Sabine, of New York, who had declined to
hold a church burial service for the old actor, George Holland, came in
for the most caustic as well as the most artistic stricture of the entire
series. It deserves preservation to-day, not only for its literary
value, but because no finer defense of the drama, no more searching
sermon on self-righteousness, has ever been put into concrete form.
--["The Indignity Put Upon the Remains of Gorge Holland by the Rev. Mr.
Sabine"; Galaxy for February, 1871. The reader will find it complete
under Appendix J, at the end of last volume.]

The "Little Church Around the Corner" on Twenty-ninth Street received
that happy title from this incident.

"There is a little church around the corner that will, perhaps, permit
the service," Mr. Sabine had said to Holland's friends.

The little church did permit the service, and there was conferred upon it
the new name, which it still bears. It has sheltered a long line of
actor folk and their friends since then, earning thereby reverence,
gratitude, and immortal memory.--[Church of the Transfiguration. Memorial
services were held there for Joseph Jefferson; and a memorial window, by
John La Farge, has been placed there in memory of Edwin Booth.]

Of the Galaxy contributions a number are preserved in Sketches New and
Old. "How I Edited an Agricultural Paper" is one of the best of these
--an excellent example of Mark Twain's more extravagant style of humor.
It is perennially delightful; in France it has been dramatized, and is
still played.

A successful Galaxy feature, also preserved in the Sketches, was the
"Burlesque Map of Paris," reprinted from the Express. The
Franco-Prussian War was in progress, and this travesty was particularly
timely. It creates only a smile of amusement to-day, but it was all fresh
and delightful then. Schuyler Colfax, by this time Vice-President, wrote
to him: "I have had the heartiest possible laugh over it, and so have all
my family. You are a wicked, conscienceless wag, who ought to be
punished severely."

The "Official Commendations," which accompany the map, are its chief
charm. They are from Grant, Bismarck, Brigham Young, and others, the
best one coming from one J. Smith, who says:

    My wife was for years afflicted with freckles, and though everything
    was done for her relief that could be done, all was in vain. But,
    sir, since her first glance at your map they have entirely left her.
    She has nothing but convulsions now.

It is said that the "Map of Paris" found its way to Berlin, where the
American students in the beer-halls used to pretend to quarrel over it
until they attracted the attention of the German soldiers that might be
present. Then they would wander away and leave it on the table and watch
results. The soldiers would pounce upon it and lose their tempers over
it; then finally abuse it and revile its author, to the satisfaction of
everybody.

The larger number of "Memoranda" sketches have properly found oblivion
to-day. They were all, or nearly all, collected by a Canadian pirate, C.
A. Backas, in a volume bearing the title of Memoranda,--[Also by a harpy
named John Camden Hotten (of London), of whom we shall hear again. Hotten
had already pirated The Innocents, and had it on the market before
Routledge could bring out the authorized edition. Routledge later
published the "Memoranda" under the title of Sketches, including the
contents of the Jumping Frog book.]--a book long ago suppressed. Only
about twenty of the Galaxy contributions found place in Sketches New and
Old, five years later, and some of these might have been spared as
literature. "To Raise Poultry," "John Chinaman in New York," and
"History Repeats Itself" are valuable only as examples of his work at
that period. The reader may consult them for himself.




LXXVIII

THE PRIMROSE PATH

But we are losing sight of more important things. From the very
beginning Mark Twain's home meant always more to him than his work. The
life at 472 Delaware Avenue had begun with as fair a promise as any
matrimonial journey ever undertaken: There seemed nothing lacking: a
beautiful home, sufficient income, bright prospects--these things, with
health and love; constitute married happiness. Mrs. Clemens wrote to her
sister, Mrs. Crane, at the end of February: "Sue, we are two as happy
people as you ever saw. Our days seem to be made up of only bright
sunlight, with no shadow in them." In the same letter the husband added:
"Livy pines and pines every day for you, and I pine and pine every day
for you, and when we both of us are pining at once you would think it was
a whole pine forest let loose."

To Redpath, who was urging lecture engagements for the coming season, he
wrote:

    DEAR RED,--I am not going to lecture any more forever. I have got
    things ciphered down to a fraction now. I know just about what it
    will cost to live, and I can make the money without lecturing.
    Therefore, old man, count me out.

And still later, in May:

    I guess I am out of the field permanently. Have got a lovely wife,
    a lovely house, bewitchingly furnished, a lovely carriage, and a
    coachman whose style and dignity are simply awe-in-spiring, nothing
    less; and I am making more money than necessary, by considerable,
    and therefore why crucify myself nightly on the platform? The
    subscriber will have to be excused for the present season at least.

So they were very happy during those early months, acquiring pleasantly
the education which any matrimonial experience is sure to furnish,
accustoming themselves to the uses of housekeeping, to life in
partnership, with all the discoveries and mental and spiritual
adaptations that belong to the close association of marriage. They were
far, very far, apart on many subjects. He was unpolished, untrained,
impulsive, sometimes violent. Twichell remembers that in the earlier
days of their acquaintance he wore a slouch hat pulled down in front, and
smoked a cigar that sometimes tilted up and touched the brim of it. The
atmosphere and customs of frontier life, the Westernisms of that day,
still clung to him. Mrs. Clemens, on the other hand, was conservative,
dainty, cultured, spiritual. He adored her as little less than a saint,
and she became, indeed, his saving grace. She had all the personal
refinement which he lacked, and she undertook the work of polishing and
purifying her life companion. She had no wish to destroy his
personality, to make him over, but only to preserve his best, and she set
about it in the right way--gently, and with a tender gratitude in each
achievement.

She did not entirely approve of certain lines of his reading; or, rather,
she did not understand them in those days. That he should be fond of
history and the sciences was natural enough, but when the Life of P. T.
Barnum, Written by Himself, appeared, and he sat up nights to absorb it,
and woke early and lighted the lamp to follow the career of the great
showman, she was at a loss to comprehend this particular literary
passion, and indeed was rather jealous of it. She did not realize then
his vast interest in the study of human nature, or that such a book
contained what Mr. Howells calls "the root of the human matter," the
inner revelation of the human being at first hand.

Concerning his religious observances her task in the beginning was easy
enough. Clemens had not at that time formulated any particular doctrines
of his own. His natural kindness of heart, and especially his love for
his wife, inclined him toward the teachings and customs of her Christian
faith--unorthodox but sincere, as Christianity in the Langdon family was
likely to be. It took very little persuasion on his wife's part to
establish family prayers in their home, grace before meals, and the
morning reading of a Bible chapter. Joe Goodman, who made a trip East,
and visited them during the early days of their married life, was
dumfounded to see Mark Twain ask a blessing and join in family worship.
Just how long these forms continued cannot be known to-day; the time of
their abandonment has perished from the recollection of any one now
living.

It would seem to have been the Bible-reading that wrought the change. The
prayer and the blessing were to him sincere and gracious; but as the
readings continued he realized that he had never before considered the
Bible from a doctrinal point of view, as a guide to spiritual salvation.
To his logical reasoning mind, a large portion of it seemed absurd: a
mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology. From such material
humanity had built its mightiest edifice of hope, the doctrines of its
faith. After a little while he could stand it no longer.

"Livy," he said one day, "you may keep this up if you want to, but I must
ask you to excuse me from it. It is making me a hypocrite. I don't
believe in this Bible. It contradicts my reason. I can't sit here and
listen to it, letting you believe that I regard it, as you do, in the
light of gospel, the word of God."

He was moved to write an article on the human idea of God, ancient and
modern. It contained these paragraphs:

    The difference in importance, between the God of the Bible and the
    God of the present day, cannot be described, it can only be vaguely
    and inadequately figured to the mind . . . . If you make figures
    to represent the earth and moon, and allow a space of one inch
    between them, to represent the four hundred thousand miles of
    distance which lies between the two bodies, the map will have to be
    eleven miles long in order to bring in the nearest fixed star.
    --[His figures were far too small. A map drawn on the scale of
    400,000 miles to the inch would need to be 1,100 miles long to take
    in both the earth and the nearest fixed star. On such a map the
    earth would be one-fiftieth of an inch in diameter--the size of a
    small grain of sand.]--So one cannot put the modern heavens on a
    map, nor the modern God; but the Bible God and the Bible heavens can
    be set down on a slate and yet not be discommoded . . . .

    The difference between that universe and the modern one revealed by
    science is as the difference between a dust-flecked ray in a barn
    and the sublime arch of the Milky Way in the skies. Its God was
    strictly proportioned to its dimensions. His sole solicitude was
    about a handful of truculent nomads. He worried and fretted over
    them in a peculiarly and distractingly human way. One day he coaxed
    and petted them beyond their due, the next he harried and lashed
    them beyond their deserts. He sulked, he cursed, he raged, he
    grieved, according to his mood and the circumstances, but all to no
    purpose; his efforts were all vain, he could not govern them. When
    the fury was on him he was blind to all reason--he not only
    slaughtered the offender, but even his harmless little children and
    dumb cattle....

    To trust the God of the Bible is to trust an irascible, vindictive,
    fierce and ever fickle and changeful master; to trust the true God
    is to trust a Being who has uttered no promises, but whose
    beneficent, exact, and changeless ordering of the machinery of his
    colossal universe is proof that he is at least steadfast to his
    purposes; whose unwritten laws, so far as they affect man, being
    equal and impartial, show that he is just and fair; these things,
    taken together, suggest that if he shall ordain us to live
    hereafter, he will still be steadfast, just, and fair toward us. We
    shall not need to require anything more.

It seems mild enough, obvious, even orthodox, now--so far have we
traveled in forty years. But such a declaration then would have shocked
a great number of sincerely devout persons. His wife prevailed upon him
not to print it. She respected his honesty--even his reasoning, but his
doubts were a long grief to her, nevertheless. In time she saw more
clearly with his vision, but this was long after, when she had lived more
with the world, had become more familiar with its larger needs, and the
proportions of created things.

They did not mingle much or long with the social life of Buffalo. They
received and returned calls, attended an occasional reception; but
neither of them found such things especially attractive in those days, so
they remained more and more in their own environment. There is an
anecdote which seems to belong here.

One Sunday morning Clemens noticed smoke pouring from the upper window of
the house across the street. The owner and his wife, comparatively
newcomers, were seated upon the veranda, evidently not aware of impending
danger. The Clemens household thus far had delayed calling on them, but
Clemens himself now stepped briskly across the street. Bowing with
leisurely politeness, he said:

"My name is Clemens; we ought to have called on you before, and I beg
your pardon for intruding now in this informal way, but your house is on
fire."

Almost the only intimate friends they had in Buffalo were in the family
of David Gray, the poet-editor of the Courier. Gray was a gentle,
lovable man. "The gentlest spirit and the loveliest that ever went
clothed in clay, since Sir Galahad laid him to rest," Mark Twain once
said of him. Both Gray and Clemens were friends of John Hay, and their
families soon became intimate. Perhaps, in time, the Clemens household
would have found other as good friends in the Buffalo circles; but heavy
clouds that had lain unseen just beyond the horizon during those earlier
months of marriage rose suddenly into view, and the social life, whatever
it might have become, was no longer a consideration.




LXXIX

THE OLD HUMAN STORY

Jervis Langdon was never able to accept his son-in-law's invitation to
the new home. His health began to fail that spring, and at the end of
March, with his physician and Mrs. Langdon, he made a trip to the South.
In a letter written at Richmond he said, "I have thrown off all care,"
and named a list of the four great interests in which he was involved.
Under "number 5," he included "everything," adding, "so you see how good
I am to follow the counsel of my children." He closed: "Samuel, I love
your wife and she loves me. I think it is only fair that you should know
it, but you need not flare up. I loved her before you did, and she loved
me before she did you, and has not ceased since. I see no way but for
you to make the most of it." He was already a very ill man, and this
cheerful letter was among the last he ever wrote.

He was absent six weeks and seemed to improve, but suffered an attack
early in May; in June his condition became critical. Clemens and his
wife were summoned to Elmira, and joined in the nursing, day and night.
Clemens surprised every one by his ability as a nurse. His delicacy and
thoughtfulness were unfailing; his original ways of doing things always
amused and interested the patient. In later years Mark Twain once said:

    "How much of the nursing did I do? My main watch was from midnight
    to four in the morning, nearly four hours. My other watch was a
    midday watch, and I think it was nearly three hours. The two
    sisters divided the remaining seventeen hours of the twenty-four
    hours between them, and each of them tried generously and
    persistently to swindle the other out of a part of her watch. I
    went to bed early every night, and tried to get sleep enough by
    midnight to fit me for my work, but it was always a failure. I went
    on watch sleepy and remained miserable, sleepy, and wretched,
    straight along through the four hours. I can still see myself
    sitting by that bed in the melancholy stillness of the sweltering
    night, mechanically waving a palm-leaf fan over the drawn, white
    face of the patient. I can still recall my noddings, my fleeting
    unconsciousness, when the fan would come to a standstill in my hand,
    and I woke up with a start and a hideous shock. During all that
    dreary time I began to watch for the dawn long before it came. When
    the first faint gray showed through the window-blinds I felt as no
    doubt a castaway feels when the dim threads of the looked-for ship
    appear against the sky. I was well and strong, but I was a man,
    afflicted with a man's infirmity--lack of endurance."

He always dealt with himself in this unsparing way; but those who were
about him then have left a different story.

It was all without avail. Mr. Langdon rallied, and early in July there
was hope for his recovery. He failed again, and on the afternoon of the
6th of August he died. To Mrs. Clemens, delicate and greatly worn with
the anxiety and strain of watching, the blow was a crushing one. It was
the beginning of a series of disasters which would mark the entire
remaining period of their Buffalo residence.

There had been a partial plan for spending the summer in England, and a
more definite one for joining the Twichells in the Adirondacks. Both of
these projects were now abandoned. Mrs. Clemens concluded that she would
be better at home than anywhere else, and invited an old school friend, a
Miss Emma Nye, to visit her.

But the shadow of death had not been lifted from the Clemens household.
Miss Nye presently fell ill with typhoid fever. There followed another
long period of anxiety and nursing, ending with the death of the visitor
in the new home, September 29th. The young wife was now in very delicate
health; genuinely ill, in fact. The happy home had become a place of
sorrow-of troubled nights and days. Another friend came to cheer them,
and on this friend's departure Mrs. Clemens drove to the railway station.
It was a hurried trip over rough streets to catch the train. She was
prostrated on her return, and a little later, November 7, 1870, her first
child, Langdon, was prematurely born. A dangerous illness followed, and
complete recovery was long delayed. But on the 12th the crisis seemed
passed, and the new father wrote a playful letter to the Twichells, as
coming from the late arrival:

    DEAR UNCLE AND AUNT,--I came into the world on the 7th inst., and
    consequently am about five days old now. I have had wretched health
    ever since I made my appearance . . . I am not corpulent, nor am
    I robust in any way. At birth I only weighed four and one-half
    pounds with my clothes on--and the clothes were the chief feature of
    the weight, too, I am obliged to confess, but I am doing finely, all
    things considered . . . . My little mother is very bright and
    cheery, and I guess she is pretty happy, but I don't know what
    about. She laughs a great deal, notwithstanding she is sick abed.

    P. S.--Father says I had better write because you will be more
    interested in me, just now, than in the rest of the family.

A week later Clemens, as himself, wrote:

    Livy is up and the prince keeps her busy and anxious these latter
    days and nights, but I am a bachelor up-stairs and don't have to
    jump up and get the soothing sirup, though I would as soon do it as
    not, I assure you. (Livy will be certain to read this letter.)

    Tell Harmony that I do hold the baby, and do it pretty handily too,
    though with occasional apprehensions that his loose head will fall
    off. I don't have to quiet him; he hardly ever utters a cry. He is
    always thinking about something. He is a patient, good little baby.

Further along he refers to one of his reforms:

    Smoke? I always smoke from three till five on Sunday afternoons,
    and in New York, the other day, I smoked a week, day and night. But
    when Livy is well I smoke only those two hours on Sunday. I'm boss
    of the habit now, and shall never let it boss me any more.
    Originally I quit solely on Livy's account (not that I believed
    there was the faintest reason in the matter, but just as I would
    deprive myself of sugar in my coffee if she wished it, or quit
    wearing socks if she thought them immoral), and I stick to it yet on
    Livy's account, and shall always continue to do so without a pang.
    But somehow it seems a pity that you quit, for Mrs. T. didn't mind
    it, if I remember rightly. Ah, it is turning one's back upon a
    kindly Providence to spurn away from us the good creature he sent to
    make the breath of life a luxury as well as a necessity, enjoyable
    as well as useful. To go quit smoking, when there ain't any
    sufficient excuse for it!--why, my old boy, when they used to tell
    me I would shorten my life ten years by smoking, they little knew
    the devotee they were wasting their puerile words upon; they little
    knew how trivial and valueless I would regard a decade that had no
    smoking in it! But I won't persuade you, Twichell--I won't until I
    see you again--but then we'll smoke for a week together, and then
    shut off again.




LXXX

LITERARY PROJECTS

The success of the Innocents naturally made a thrifty publisher like
Bliss anxious for a second experiment. He had begun early in the year to
talk about another book, but nothing had come of it beyond a project or
two, more or less hazy and unpursued. Clemens at one time developed a
plan for a Noah's Ark book, which was to detail the cruise of the Ark in
diaries kept by various members of it-Shem, Ham, and the others. He
really wrote some of it at the time, and it was an idea he never entirely
lost track of. All along among his manuscripts appear fragments from
those ancient voyagers. One of the earlier entries will show the style
and purpose of the undertaking. It is from Shem's record:

    Friday: Papa's birthday. He is 600 years old. We celebrated it in
    a big, black tent. Principal men of the tribe present. Afterward
    they were shown over the ark, which was looking desolate and empty
    and dreary on account of a misunderstanding with the workmen about
    wages. Methuselah was as free with his criticisms as usual, and as
    voluble and familiar, which I and my brothers do not like; for we
    are past our one hundredth year and married. He still calls me
    Shemmy, just as he did when I was a child of sixty. I am still but
    a youth, it is true, but youth has its feelings, and I do not like
    this . . . .

    Saturday: Keeping the Sabbath.

    Sunday: Papa has yielded the advance and everybody is hard at work.
    The shipyard is so crowded that the men hinder each other; everybody
    hurrying or being hurried; the rush and confusion and shouting and
    wrangling are astonishing to our family, who have always been used
    to a quiet, country life.

It was from this germ that in a later day grew the diaries of Adam and
Eve, though nothing very satisfactory ever came of this preliminary
attempt. The author had faith in it, however. To Bliss he wrote:

    I mean to take plenty of time and pains with the Noah's Ark book;
    maybe it will be several years before it is all written, but it will
    be a perfect lightning striker when it is done.

    You can have the first say (that is plain enough) on that or any
    other book I may prepare for the press, as long as you deal in a
    fair, open, and honorable way with me. I do not think you will ever
    find me doing otherwise with you. I can get a book ready for you
    any time you want it; but you can't want one before this time next
    year, so I have plenty of time.

Bliss was only temporarily appeased. He realized that to get a book
ready by the time he wanted it-a book of sufficient size and importance
to maintain the pace set by the Innocents meant rather more immediate
action than his author seemed to contemplate. Futhermore, he knew that
other publishers were besieging the author of the Innocents; a
disquieting thought. In early July, when Mr. Langdon's condition had
temporarily improved, Bliss had come to Elmira and proposed a book which
should relate the author's travels and experiences in the Far West. It
was an inviting subject, and Clemens, by this time more attracted by the
idea of authorship and its rewards, readily enough agreed to undertake
the volume. He had been offered half profits, and suggested that the new
contract be arranged upon these terms. Bliss, figuring on a sale of
100,000 copies, proposed seven and one-half per cent. royalty as an
equivalent, and the contract was so arranged. In after-years, when the
cost of manufacture and paper had become greatly reduced, Clemens, with
but a confused notion of business details, believed he had been misled by
Bliss in this contract, and was bitter and resentful accordingly. The
figures remain, however, to show that Bliss dealt fairly. Seven and
one-half per cent. of a subscription book did represent half profits up
to 100,000 copies when the contract was drawn; but it required ten years
to sell that quantity, and in that time conditions had changed. Bliss
could hardly foresee that these things would be so, and as he was dead
when the book touched the 100,000 mark he could not explain or readjust
matters, whatever might have been his inclination.

Clemens was pleased enough with the contract when it was made. To Orion
he wrote July 15 (1870):

    Per contract I must have another six-hundred-page book ready for my
    publisher January 1st, and I only began it to-day. The subject of
    it is a secret, because I may possibly change it. But as it stands
    I propose to do up Nevada and California, beginning with the trip
    across the country in the stage. Have you a memorandum of the route
    we took, or the names of any of the stations we stopped at? Do you
    remember any of the scenes, names, incidents, or adventures of the
    coach trip?--for I remember next to nothing about the matter. Jot
    down a foolscap page of items for me. I wish I could have two days'
    talk with you.

    I suppose I am to get the biggest copyright this time ever paid on a
    subscription book in this country.

The work so promptly begun made little progress. Hard days of illness
and sorrow followed, and it was not until September that it was really
under way. His natural enthusiasm over any new undertaking possessed
him. On the 4th he wrote Bliss:

During the past week I have written the first four chapters of the book,
and I tell you 'The Innocents Abroad' will have to get up early to beat
it. It will be a book that will jump straight into continental celebrity
the first month it is issued.

He prophesied a sale of 90,000 copies during the first twelve months and
declared, "I see the capabilities of the subject."

But further disasters, even then impending, made continued effort
impossible; the prospect of the new book for a time became gloomy, the
idea of it less inspiring. Other plans presented themselves, and at one
time he thought of letting the Galaxy publishers get out a volume of his
sketches. In October he wrote Bliss that he was "driveling along
tolerably fair on the book, getting off from twelve to twenty pages of
manuscript a day." Bliss naturally discouraged the Galaxy idea, and
realizing that the new book might be long delayed, agreed to get out a
volume of miscellany sufficiently large and important for subscription
sales. He was doubtful of the wisdom of this plan, and when Clemens
suddenly proposed a brand-new scheme his publisher very readily agreed to
hold back the publication of Sketches indefinitely.

The new book was to be adventures in the diamond mines of South Africa,
then newly opened and of wide public interest. Clemens did not propose
to visit the mines himself, but to let another man do the traveling, make
the notes, and write or tell him the story, after which Clemens would
enlarge and elaborate it in his own fashion. His adaptation of the
letters of Professor Ford, a year earlier, had convinced him that his
plan would work out successfully on a larger scale; he fixed upon his old
friend, J. H. Riley, of Washington--["Riley-Newspaper Correspondent." See
Sketches.]--(earlier of San Francisco), as the proper person to do the
traveling. At the end of November he wrote Bliss:

    I have put my greedy hands upon the best man in America for my
    purpose, and shall start him to the diamond field in South Africa
    within a fortnight at my expense . . . that the book will have a
    perfectly beautiful sale.

He suggested that Bliss advance Riley's expense money, the amount to be
deducted from the first royalty returns; also he proposed an increased
royalty, probably in view of the startling splendor of the new idea.
Bliss was duly impressed, and the agreement was finally made on a basis
of eight and one-half per cent., with an advance of royalty sufficient to
see Riley to South Africa and return.

Clemens had not yet heard from Riley definitely when he wrote his glowing
letter to Bliss. He took it for granted that Riley, always an
adventurous sort, would go. When Riley wrote him that he felt morally
bound to the Alta, of which he was then Washington correspondent, also in
certain other directions till the end of the session, Clemens wrote him
at great length, detailing his scheme in full and urging him to write
instantly to the Alta and others, asking a release on the ground of being
offered a rare opportunity to improve his fortunes.

You know right well that I would not have you depart a hair from any
obligation for any money. The boundless confidence that I have in you
is born of a conviction of your integrity in small as well as in great
things. I know plenty of men whose integrity I would trust to here, but
not off yonder in Africa.

His proposal, in brief, to Riley was that the latter should make the trip
to Africa without expense to himself, collect memoranda, and such diamond
mines as might be found lying about handy. Upon his return he was to
take up temporary residence in the Clemens household until the book was
finished, after which large benefits were to accrue to everybody
concerned. In the end Riley obtained a release from his obligations and
was off for the diamond mines and fortune.

Poor fellow! He was faithful in his mission, and it is said that he
really located a mining claim that would have made him and his
independent for all time to come; but returning home with his precious
memoranda and the news of good fortune, he accidentally wounded himself
with a fork while eating; blood-poisoning set in (they called it cancer
then), and he was only able to get home to die. His memoranda were never
used, his mining claim was never identified. Certainly, death was
closely associated with Mark Twain's fortunes during those earlier days
of his married life.

On the whole the Buffalo residence was mainly a gloomy one; its ventures
were attended by ill-fortune. For some reason Mark Twain's connection
with the Express, while it had given the paper a wide reputation, had not
largely increased its subscription. Perhaps his work on it was too
varied and erratic. Nasby, who had popularized the Toledo Blade, kept
steadily to one line. His farmer public knew always just what to expect
when their weekly edition arrived.

Clemens and his wife dreamed of a new habitation, and new faces and
surroundings. They agreed to offer their home and his interests in the
Express for sale. They began to talk of Hartford, where Twichell lived,
and where Orion Clemens and his wife had recently located.

Mark Twain's new fortunes had wrought changes in the affairs of his
relatives. Already, before his marriage, he had prospected towns here
and there with a view to finding an Eastern residence for his mother and
sister, and he had kept Orion's welfare always in mind. When Pamela and
her daughter came to his wedding he told them of a little city by the
name of Fredonia (New York), not far from Buffalo, where he thought they
might find a pleasant home.

"I went in there by night and out by night," he said, "so I saw none of
it, but I had an intelligent, attractive audience. Prospect Fredonia and
let me know what it is like. Try to select a place where a good many
funerals pass. Ma likes funerals. If you can pick a good funeral corner
she will be happy."

It was in her later life that Jane Clemens had developed this particular
passion. She would consult the morning paper for any notice of obsequies
and attend those that were easy of access. Watching the processions go
by gave her a peculiar joy. Mrs. Moffett and her daughter did go to
Fredonia immediately following the wedding. They found it residentially
attractive, and rented a house before returning to St. Louis, a
promptness that somewhat alarmed the old lady, who did not altogether
fancy the idea of being suddenly set down in a strange house, in a
strange land, even though it would be within hailing distance of Sam and
his new wife. Perhaps the Fredonia funerals were sufficiently numerous
and attractive, for she soon became attached to the place, and entered
into the spirit of the life there, joining its temperance crusades, and
the like, with zest and enjoyment.

Onion remained in St. Louis, but when Bliss established a paper called
The Publisher, and wanted an editor, he was chosen for the place,
originally offered to his brother; the latter, writing to Onion, said:

If you take the place with an air of perfect confidence in yourself,
never once letting anything show in your bearing but a quiet, modest,
entire, and perfect confidence in your ability to do pretty much anything
in the world, Bliss will think you are the very man he needs; but don't
show any shadow of timidity or unsoldierly diffidence, for that sort of
thing is fatal to advancement.

I warn you thus because you are naturally given to knocking your pot over
in this way, when a little judicious conduct would make it boil.




LXXXI

SOME FURTHER LITERARY MATTERS

Meantime The Innocents Abroad had continued to prosper. Its author
ranked mainly as a humorist, but of such colossal proportions that his
contemporaries had seemed to dwindle; the mighty note of the "Frog of
Calaveras" had dwarfed a score of smaller peepers. At the end of a year
from its date of publication the book had sold up to 67,000 and was
continuing at the rate of several thousand monthly.

"You are running it in staving, tiptop, first-class style," Clemens wrote
to Bliss. "On the average ten people a day come and hunt me up to tell
me I am a benefactor! I guess that is a part of the program we didn't
expect, in the first place."

Apparently the book appealed to readers of every grade. One hundred and
fifteen copies were in constant circulation at the Mercantile Library, in
New York, while in the most remote cabins of America it was read and
quoted. Jack Van Nostrand, making a long horseback tour of Colorado,
wrote:

I stopped a week ago in a ranch but a hundred miles from nowhere. The
occupant had just two books: the Bible and The Innocents Abroad--the
former in good repair.

Across the ocean the book had found no less favor, and was being
translated into many and strange tongues. By what seems now some
veritable magic its author's fame had become literally universal. The
consul at Hongkong, discussing English literature with a Chinese
acquaintance, a mandarin, mentioned The Pilgrim's Progress.

"Yes, indeed, I have read it!" the mandarin said, eagerly. "We are
enjoying it in China, and shall have it soon in our own language. It is
by Mark Twain."

In England the book had an amazing vogue from the beginning, and English
readers were endeavoring to outdo the Americans in appreciation. Indeed,
as a rule, English readers of culture, critical readers, rose to an
understanding of Mark Twain's literary value with greater promptness than
did the same class of readers at home. There were exceptions, of course.
There were English critics who did not take Mark Twain seriously, there
were American critics who did. Among the latter was a certain William
Ward, an editor of a paper down in Macon, Georgia--The Beacon. Ward did
not hold a place with the great magazine arbiters of literary rank. He
was only an obscure country editor, but he wrote like a prophet. His
article--too long to quote in full--concerned American humorists in
general, from Washington Irving, through John Phoenix, Philander
Doesticks, Sut Lovingwood, Artemus Ward, Josh Billings and Petroleum V.
Nasby, down to Mark Twain. With the exception of the first and last
named he says of them:

    They have all had, or will have, their day. Some of them are
    resting beneath the sod, and others still live whose work will
    scarcely survive them. Since Irving no humorist in prose has held
    the foundation of a permanent fame except it be Mark Twain, and
    this, as in the case of Irving, is because he is a pure writer.
    Aside from any subtle mirth that lurks through his composition, the
    grace and finish of his more didactic and descriptive sentences
    indicate more than mediocrity.

The writer then refers to Mark Twain's description of the Sphinx,
comparing it with Bulwer's, which he thinks may have influenced it. He
was mistaken in this, for Clemens had not read Bulwer--never could read
him at any length.

Of the English opinions, that of The Saturday Review was perhaps most
doubtful. It came along late in 1870, and would hardly be worth
recalling if it were not for a resulting, or collateral, interest.
Clemens saw notice of this review before he saw the review itself. A
paragraph in the Boston Advertiser spoke of The Saturday Review as
treating the absurdities of the Innocents from a serious standpoint. The
paragraph closed:

    We can imagine the delight of the humorist in reading this tribute
    to his power; and indeed it is so amusing in itself that he can
    hardly do better than reproduce the article in full in his next
    monthly "Memoranda."

The old temptation to hoax his readers prompted Mark Twain to "reproduce"
in the Galaxy, not the Review article, which he had not yet seen, but an
imaginary Review article, an article in which the imaginary reviewer
would be utterly devoid of any sense of humor and treat the most absurd
incidents of The New Pilgrim's Progress as if set down by the author in
solemn and serious earnest. The pretended review began:

    Lord Macaulay died too soon. We never felt this so deeply as when
    we finished the last chapter of the above-named extravagant work.
    Macaulay died too soon; for none but he could mete out complete and
    comprehensive justice to the insolence, the impudence, the
    presumption, the mendacity, and, above all, the majestic ignorance
    of this author.

The review goes on to cite cases of the author's gross deception. It
says:

    Let the cultivated English student of human nature picture to
    himself this Mark Twain as a person capable of doing the following
    described things; and not only doing them, but, with incredible
    innocence, printing them tranquilly and calmly in a book. For
    instance:

    He states that he entered a hair-dresser's in Paris to get a shave,
    and the first "rake" the barber gave him with his razor it loosened
    his "hide," and lifted him out of the chair.

    This is unquestionably extravagant. In Florence he was so annoyed
    by beggars that he pretends to have seized and eaten one in a
    frantic spirit of revenge. There is, of course, no truth in this.
    He gives at full length the theatrical program, seventeen or
    eighteen hundred years old, which he professes to have found in the
    ruins of the Colosseum, among the dirt-and mold and rubbish. It is
    a sufficient comment upon this subject to remark that even a cast-
    iron program would not have lasted so long under the circumstances.

There were two and one-half pages of this really delightful burlesque
which the author had written with huge-enjoyment, partly as a joke on the
Review, partly to trick American editors, who he believed would accept it
as a fresh and startling proof of the traditional English lack of humor.

But, as in the early sage-brush hoaxes, he rather overdid the thing.
Readers and editors readily enough accepted it as genuine, so far as
having come from The Saturday Review; but most of them, regarded it as a
delicious bit of humor which Mark Twain himself had taken seriously, and
was therefore the one sold. This was certainly startling, and by no
means gratifying. In the next issue he undertook that saddest of all
performances with tongue or pen: he explained his joke, and insisted on
the truth of the explanation. Then he said:

    If any man doubts my word now I will kill him. No, I will not kill
    him; I will win his money. I will bet him twenty to one, and let
    any New York publisher hold the stakes, that the statements I have
    above made as to the authorship of the article in question are
    entirely true.

But the Cincinnati Enquirer persisted in continuing the joke--in "rubbing
it in," as we say now. The Enquirer declared that Mark Twain had been
intensely mortified at having been so badly taken in; that his
explanation in the Galaxy was "ingenious, but unfortunately not true."
The Enquirer maintained that The Saturday Review of October 8, 1870, did
contain the article exactly as printed in the "Memoranda," and advised
Mark Twain to admit that he was sold, and say no more about it.

This was enraging. Mark Twain had his own ideas as to how far a joke
might be carried without violence, and this was a good way beyond the
limits. He denounced the Enquirer's statement as a "pitiful, deliberate
falsehood," in his anger falling into the old-time phrasing of newspaper
editorial abuse. He offered to bet them a thousand dollars in cash that
they could not prove their assertions, and asked pointedly, in
conclusion: "Will they swallow that falsehood ignominiously, or will they
send an agent to the Galaxy office? I think the Cincinnati Enquirer must
be edited by children." He promised that if they did not accept his
financial proposition he would expose them in the next issue.

The incident closed there. He was prevented, by illness in his
household, from contributing to the next issue, and the second issue
following was his final "Memoranda" installment. So the matter perished
and was forgotten. It was his last editorial hoax. Perhaps he concluded
that hoaxes in any form were dangerous playthings; they were too likely
to go off at the wrong end.

It was with the April number (1871) that he concluded his relations with
the Galaxy. In a brief valedictory he gave his reasons:

    I have now written for the Galaxy a year. For the last eight
    months, with hardly an interval, I have had for my fellows and
    comrades, night and day, doctors and watchers of the sick! During
    these eight months death has taken two members of my home circle and
    malignantly threatened two others. All this I have experienced, yet
    all the time have been under contract to furnish "humorous" matter,
    once a month, for this magazine. I am speaking the exact truth in
    the above details. Please to put yourself in my place and
    contemplate the grisly grotesqueness of the situation. I think that
    some of the "humor" I have written during this period could have
    been injected into a funeral sermon without disturbing the solemnity
    of the occasion.

    The "Memoranda" will cease permanently with this issue of the
    magazine. To be a pirate on a low salary, and with no share in the
    profits of the business, used to be my idea of an uncomfortable
    occupation, but I have other views now. To be a monthly humorist in
    a cheerless time is drearier.

Without doubt he felt a glad relief in being rid of this recurrent,
imperative demand. He wrote to Orion that he had told the Galaxy people
he would not write another article, long or short, for less than $500,
and preferred not to do it at all.

The Galaxy department and the work on the Express were Mark Twain's
farewell to journalism; for the "Memoranda" was essentially journalistic,
almost as much so, and as liberally, as his old-time Enterprise position.
Apparently he wrote with absolute freedom, unhampered by editorial policy
or restriction. The result was not always pleasant, and it was not
always refined. We may be certain that it was because of Mrs. Clemens's
heavy burdens that year, and her consequent inability to exert a
beneficent censorship, that more than one--more than a dozen--of the
"Memoranda" contributions were permitted to see the light of print.

As a whole, the literary result of Mark Twain's Buffalo period does not
reach the high standard of The Innocents Abroad. It was a retrogression
--in some measure a return to his earlier form. It had been done under
pressure, under heavy stress of mind, as he said. Also there was another
reason; neither the subject treated nor the environment of labor had
afforded that lofty inspiration which glorified every step of the Quaker
City journey. Buffalo was a progressive city--a beautiful city, as
American cities go--but it was hardly an inspiring city for literature,
and a dull, dingy newspaper office was far, very far, from the pleasant
decks of the Quaker City, the camp-fires of Syria, the blue sky and sea
of the Medit&ranean.




LXXXII

THE WRITING OF "ROUGHING IT"

The third book published by Mark Twain was not the Western book he was
preparing for Bliss. It was a small volume, issued by Sheldon & Co.,
entitled Mark Twain's Autobiography (Burlesque) and First Romance. The
Romance was the "Awful, Terrible Medieval Romance" which had appeared in
the Express at the beginning of 1870. The burlesque autobiography had
not previously appeared. The two made a thin little book, which, in
addition to its literary features, had running through it a series of
full-page, irrelevant pictures---cartoons of the Erie Railroad Ring,
presented as illustrations of a slightly modified version of "The House
That Jack Built." The "House" was the Erie headquarters, the purpose
being to illustrate the swindling methods of the Ring. The faces of Jay
Gould, James Fisk, Jr., John T. Hoffman, and others of the combination,
are chiefly conspicuous. The publication was not important, from any
standpoint. Literary burlesque is rarely important, and it was far from
Mark Twain's best form of expression. A year or two later he realized
the mistake of this book, bought in the plates and destroyed them.

Meantime the new Western book was at a standstill. To Orion, in March,
he wrote:

    I am still nursing Livy night and day. I am nearly worn out. We
    shall go to Elmira ten days hence (if Livy can travel on a mattress
    then), and stay there until I finish the California book, say three
    months. But I can't begin work right away when I get there; must
    have a week's rest, for I have been through thirty days' terrific
    siege.

He promised to forward some of the manuscript soon.

    Hold on four or five days and I will see if I can get a few chapters
    fixed to send to Bliss . . . .

    I have offered this house and the Express for sale, and when we go
    to Elmira we leave here for good. I shall not select a new home
    till the book is finished, but we have little doubt that Hartford
    will be the place.

He disposed of his interest in the Express in April, at a sacrifice of
$10,000 on the purchase price. Mrs. Clemens and the baby were able to
travel, and without further delay he took them to Elmira, to Quarry Farm.

Quarry Farm, the home of Mrs. Clemens's sister, Mrs. Theodore Crane, is a
beautiful hilltop, with a wide green slope, overlooking the hazy city and
the Chemung River, beyond which are the distant hills. It was bought
quite incidentally by Mr. and Mrs. Langdon, who, driving by one evening,
stopped to water the horses and decided that it would make a happy summer
retreat, where the families could combine their housekeeping arrangements
during vacation days. When the place had first been purchased, they had
debated on a name for it. They had tried several, among them
"Go-as-you-please Hall," "Crane's Nest," and had finally agreed upon
"Rest and Be Thankful." But this was only its official name. There was
an abandoned quarry up the hill, a little way from the house, and the
title suggested by Thomas K. Beecher came more naturally to the tongue.
The place became Quarry Farm, and so remains.

Clemens and his wife had fully made up their minds to live in Hartford.
They had both conceived an affection for the place, Clemens mainly
because of Twichell, while both of them yearned for the congenial
literary and social atmosphere, and the welcome which they felt awaited
them. Hartford was precisely what Buffalo in that day was not--a home
for the literary man. It held a distinguished group of writers, most of
whom the Clemenses already knew. Furthermore, with Bliss as publisher of
the Mark Twain books, it held their chief business interests.

Their plans for going were not very definite as to time. Clemens found
that his work went better at the farm, and that Mrs. Clemens and the
delicate baby daily improved. They decided to remain at Quarry Farm for
the summer, their first summer in that beautiful place which would mean
so much to them in the years to come.

It was really Joe Goodman, as much as anything, that stirred a fresh
enthusiasm in the new book. Goodman arrived just when the author's
spirits were at low ebb.

"Joe," he said, "I guess I'm done for. I don't appear to be able to get
along at all with my work, and what I do write does not seem valuable.
I'm afraid I'll never be able to reach the standard of 'The Innocents
Abroad' again. Here is what I have written, Joe. Read it, and see if
that is your opinion."

Goodman took the manuscript and seated himself in a chair, while Clemens
went over to a table and pretended to work. Goodman read page after
page, critically, and was presently absorbed in it. Clemens watched him
furtively, till he could stand it no longer. Then he threw down his pen,
exclaiming:

"I knew it! I knew it! I am writing nothing but rot. You have sat
there all this time reading without a smile, and pitying the ass I am
making of myself. But I am not wholly to blame. I am not strong enough
to fight against fate. I have been trying to write a funny book, with
dead people and sickness everywhere. Mr. Langdon died first, then a
young lady in our house, and now Mrs. Clemens and the baby have been at
the point of death all winter! Oh, Joe, I wish to God I could die
myself!"

"Mark," said Joe, "I was reading critically, not for amusement, and so
far as I have read, and can judge, this is one of the best things you
have ever written. I have found it perfectly absorbing. You are doing a
great book!"

Clemens knew that Goodman never spoke except from conviction, and the
verdict was to him like a message of life handed down by an archangel. He
was a changed man instantly. He was all enthusiasm, full of his subject,
eager to go on. He proposed to pay Goodman a salary to stay there and
keep him company and furnish him with inspiration--the Pacific coast
atmosphere and vernacular, which he feared had slipped away from him.
Goodman declined the salary, but extended his visit as long as his plans
would permit, and the two had a happy time together, recalling old
Comstock days. Every morning, for a month or more, they used to tramp
over the farm. They fell into the habit of visiting the old quarry and
pawing over the fragments in search of fossil specimens. Both of them
had a poetic interest in geology, its infinite remotenesses and its
testimonies. Without scientific knowledge, they took a deep pleasure in
accumulating a collection, which they arranged on boards torn from an old
fence, until they had enough specimens to fill a small museum. They
imagined they could distinguish certain geological relations and
families, and would talk about trilobites, the Old Red Sandstone period,
and the azoic age, or follow random speculation to far-lying conclusions,
developing vague humors of phrase and fancy, having altogether a joyful
good time.

Another interest that developed during Goodman's stay was in one Ruloff,
who was under death sentence for a particularly atrocious murder. The
papers were full of Ruloff's prodigious learning. It was said that he
had in preparation a work showing the unity of all languages. Goodman
and Clemens agreed that Ruloff's death would be a great loss to mankind,
even though he was clearly a villain and deserved his sentence. They
decided that justice would be served just as well if some stupid person
were hung in his place, and following out this fancy Clemens one morning
put aside his regular work and wrote an article to the Tribune, offering
to supply a substitute for Ruloff. He signed it simply "Samuel
Langhorne," and it was published as a serious communication, without
comment, so far as the Tribune was concerned. Other papers, however,
took it up and it was widely copied and commented upon. Apparently no
one ever identified, Mark Twain with the authorship of the letter, which,
by the way, does not appear to have prolonged Ruloff's earthly
usefulness.--[The reader will find the Ruloff letter in full under
Appendix K, at the end of last volume.]

Life at the farm may have furnished agricultural inspiration, for Clemens
wrote something about Horace Greeley's farming, also a skit concerning
Henry Ward Beecher's efforts in that direction. Of Mr. Beecher's farming
he said:

"His strawberries would be a comfortable success if robins would eat
turnips."

The article amused Beecher, and perhaps Greeley was amused too, for he
wrote:

    MARK,--You are mistaken as to my criticisms on your farming. I
    never publicly made any, while you have undertaken to tell the exact
    cost per pint of my potatoes and cabbages, truly enough the
    inspiration of genius. If you will really betake yourself to
    farming, or even to telling what you know about it, rather than what
    you don't know about mine, I will not only refrain from disparaging
    criticism, but will give you my blessing.

                     Yours,  HORACE GREELEY.

The letter is in Mr. Greeley's characteristic scrawl, and no doubt
furnished inspiration for the turnip story in 'Roughing It', also the
model for the pretended facsimile of Greeley's writing.

Altogether that was a busy, enterprising summer at Quarry Farm. By the
middle of May, Clemens wrote to Bliss that he had twelve hundred
manuscript pages of the new book already written, and that he was turning
out the remainder at the rate of from thirty to sixty-five per day. He
was in high spirits by this time. The family health had improved, and
prospects were bright.

I have enough manuscript on hand now to make (allowing for engravings)
about four hundred pages of the book, consequently am two-thirds done. I
intended to run up to Hartford about the middle of the week and take it
along, but I find myself so thoroughly interested in my work now (a thing
I have not experienced for months) that I can't bear to lose a single
moment of the inspiration. So I will stay here and peg away as long as
it lasts. My present idea is to write as much more as I have already
written, and then collect from the mass the very best chapters and
discard the rest. When I get it done I want to see the man who will
begin to read it and not finish it. Nothing grieves me now; nothing
troubles me, nothing bothers me or gets my attention. I don't think of
anything but the book, and don't have an hour's unhappiness about
anything, and don't care two cents whether school keeps or not. The book
will be done soon now. It will be a starchy book; the dedication will be
worth the price of the volume. Thus:

                   TO THE LATE CAIN
                  THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED

    not on account of respect for his memory, for it merits little
    respect; not on account of sympathy for him, for his bloody deed
    places him without the pale of sympathy, strictly speaking, but
    out of a mere humane commiseration for him, in that it was his
    misfortune to live in a dark age that knew not the beneficent
    insanity plea.

Probably Mrs. Clemens diverted this picturesque dedication in favor of
the Higbie inscription, or perhaps the author never really intended the
literary tribute to Cain. The impulse that inspired it, however, was
characteristic.

In a postscript to this letter he adds:

    My stock is looking up. I am getting the bulliest offers for books
    and almanacs; am flooded with lecture invitations, and one
    periodical offers me $6,000 cash for twelve articles of any length,
    and on any subject, treated humorously or otherwise.

He set in to make hay while the sun was shining. In addition to the
California book, which was now fast nearing completion, he discussed a
scheme with Goodman for a six-hundred-page work which they were to do
jointly; he planned and wrote one or two scenes from a Western play, to
be built from episodes in the new book (one of them was the "Arkansas"
incident, related in Chapter XXXI); he perfected one of his several
inventions--an automatically adjusting vest-strap; he wrote a number of
sketches, made an occasional business trip to New York and Hartford;
prospected the latter place for a new home. The shadow which had hung
over the sojourn in Buffalo seemed to have lifted.

He had promised Bliss some contributions for his new paper, and in June
he sent three sketches. In an accompanying letter he says:

    Here are three articles which you may have if you will pay $125 for
    the lot. If you don't want them I'll sell them to the Galaxy, but
    not for a cent less than three times the money.... If you take them
    pay one-tenth of the $125 in weekly instalments to Orion till he has
    received it all.

He reconsidered his resolution not to lecture again, and closed with
Redpath for the coming season. He found himself in a lecture-writing
fever. He wrote three of them in succession: one on Artemus Ward,
another on "Reminiscences of Some Pleasant Characters I Have Met," and a
third one based on chapters from the new book. Of the "Reminiscence"
lecture he wrote Redpath:

"It covers my whole acquaintance; kings, lunatics, idiots, and all."
Immediately afterward he wrote that he had prepared still another
lecture, "title to be announced later."

"During July I'll decide which one I like best," he said. He instructed
Redpath not to make engagements for him to lecture in churches. "I never
made a success of a lecture in a church yet. People are afraid to laugh
in a church."

Redpath was having difficulties in arranging a circuit to suit him.
Clemens had prejudices against certain towns and localities, prejudices
that were likely to change overnight. In August he wrote:

    DEAR RED,--I am different from other women; my mind changes oftener.
    People who have no mind can easily be stead fast and firm, but when
    a man is loaded down to the guards with it, as I am, every heavy sea
    of foreboding or inclination, maybe of indolence, shifts the cargo.
    See? Therefore, if you will notice, one week I am likely to give
    rigid instructions to confine me to New England; the next week send
    me to Arizona; the next week withdraw my name; the next week give
    you full, untrammeled swing; and the week following modify it. You
    must try to keep the run of my mind, Redpath that is your business,
    being the agent, and it always was too many for me.... Now about
    the West this week, I am willing that you shall retain all the
    Western engagements. But what I shall want next week is still with
    God.
                         Yours,  MARK.

He was in Hartford when this letter was written, arranging for residence
there and the removal of his belongings. He finally leased the fine
Hooker house on Ford Street, in that pleasant seclusion known as Nook
Farm--the literary part of Hartford, which included the residence of
Charles Dudley Warner and Harriet Beecher Stowe. He arranged for
possession of the premises October 1st. So the new home was settled
upon; then learning that Nasby was to be in Boston, he ran over to that
city for a few days of recreation after his season's labors.

Preparations for removal to Hartford were not delayed. The Buffalo
property was disposed of, the furnishings were packed and shipped away.
The house which as bride and groom they had entered so happily was left
empty and deserted, never to be entered by them again. In the year and a
half of their occupancy it had seen well-nigh all the human round, all
that goes to make up the happiness and the sorrow of life.




LXXXIII

LECTURING DAYS

Life in Hartford, in the autumn of 1871, began in the letter, rather than
in the spirit. The newcomers were received with a wide, neighborly
welcome, but the disorder of establishment and the almost immediate
departure of the head of the household on a protracted lecturing tour
were disquieting things; the atmosphere of the Clemens home during those
early Hartford days gave only a faint promise of its future loveliness.

As in a far later period, Mark Twain had resorted to lecturing to pay off
debt. He still owed a portion of his share in the Express; also he had
been obliged to obtain an advance from the lecture bureau. He dreaded,
as always, the tedium of travel, the clatter of hotel life, the monotony
of entertainment, while, more than most men, he loved the tender luxury
of home. It was only that he could not afford to lose the profit offered
on the platform.

His season opened at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, October 16th, and his
schedule carried him hither and thither, to and fro, over distances that
lie between Boston and Chicago. There were opportunities to run into
Hartford now and then, when he was not too far away, and in November he
lectured there on Artemus Ward.

He changed his entertainment at least twice that season. He began with
the "Reminiscences," the lecture which he said would treat of all those
whom he had met, "idiots, lunatics, and kings," but he did not like it,
or it did not go well. He wrote Redpath of the Artemus Ward address:

"It suits me, and I'll never deliver the nasty, nauseous 'Reminiscences'
any more."

But the Ward lecture was good for little more than a month, for on
December 8th he wrote again:

    Notify all hands that from this time I shall talk nothing but
    selections from my forthcoming book, 'Roughing It'. Tried it twice
    last night; suits me tiptop.

And somewhat later:

    Had a splendid time with a splendid audience in Indianapolis last
    night; a perfectly jammed house, just as I have all the time out
    here.... I don't care now to have any appointments canceled. I'll
    even "fetch" those Dutch Pennsylvanians with this lecture.

    Have paid up $4,000 indebtedness. You are the last on my list.
    Shall begin to pay you in a few days, and then I shall be a free man
    again.

Undoubtedly he reveled in the triumphs of a platform tour, though at no
time did he regard it as a pleasure excursion. During those early weeks
the proofs of his new book, chasing him from place to place, did not add
to his comfort. Still, with large, substantial rewards in hand and in
prospect, one could endure much.

In the neighborhood of Boston there were other compensations. He could
spend a good part of his days at the Lyceum headquarters, in School
Street, where there was always congenial fellowship--Nasby, Josh
Billings, and the rest of the peripatetic group that about the end of the
year collected there. Their lectures were never tried immediately in
Boston, but in the outlying towns; tried and perfected--or discarded.
When the provincial audiences were finally satisfied, then the final.
test in the Boston Music Hall was made, and if this proved successful the
rest of the season was safe. Redpath's lecturers put up at Young's
Hotel, and spent their days at the bureau, smoking and spinning yarns, or
talking shop. Early in the evening they scattered to the outlying towns,
Lowell, Lexington, Concord, New Bedford. There is no such a condition
to-day: lecturers are few, lecture bureaus obscure; there are no great
reputations made on the platform.

Neither is there any such distinct group of humorists as the one just
mentioned. Humor has become universal since then. Few writers of this
age would confess to taking their work so seriously as to be at all times
unsmiling in it; only about as many, in fact, as in that day would
confess to taking their work so lightly that they could regard life's
sterner phases and philosophies with a smile.

Josh Billings was one of the gentlest and loveliest of our pioneers of
laughter. The present generation is not overfamiliar even with his name,
but both the name and sayings of that quaint soul were on everybody's
lips at the time of which we are writing. His true name was Henry W.
Shaw, and he was a genuine, smiling philosopher, who might have built up
a more permanent and serious reputation had he not been induced to
disfigure his maxims with ridiculous spelling in order to popularize them
and make them bring a living price. It did not matter much with Nasby's
work. An assumed illiteracy belonged with the side of life which he
presented; but it is pathetic now to consider some of the really masterly
sayings of Josh Billings presented in that uncouth form which was
regarded as a part of humor a generation ago. Even the aphorisms that
were essentially humorous lose value in that degraded spelling.

"When a man starts down hill everything is greased for the occasion,"
could hardly be improved upon by distorted orthography, and here are a
few more gems which have survived that deadly blight.

"Some folks mistake vivacity for wit; whereas the difference between
vivacity and wit is the same as the difference between the lightning-bug
and the lightning."

"Don't take the bull by the horns-take him by the tail; then you can let
go when you want to."

"The difficulty is not that we know so much, but that we know so much
that isn't so."

Josh Billings, Nasby, and Mark Twain were close friends. They had
themselves photographed in a group, and there was always some pleasantry
going on among them. Josh Billings once wrote on "Lekturing," and under
the head of "Rule Seven," which treated of unwisdom of inviting a
lecturer to a private house, he said:

    Think of asking Mark Twain home with yu, for instance. Yure good
    wife has put her house in apple-pie order for the ockashun;
    everything is just in the right place. Yu don't smoke in yure
    house, never. Yu don't put yure feet on the center-table, yu don't
    skatter the nuzepapers all over the room, in utter confushion: order
    and ekonemy governs yure premises. But if yu expeckt Mark Twain to
    be happy, or even kumfortable yu hav got to buy a box of cigars
    worth at least seventeen dollars and yu hav got to move all the
    tender things out ov yure parlor. Yu hav got to skatter all the
    latest papers around the room careless, you hav got to hav a pitcher
    ov icewater handy, for Mark is a dry humorist. Yu hav got to ketch
    and tie all yure yung ones, hed and foot, for Mark luvs babys only
    in theory; yu hav got to send yure favorite kat over to the nabors
    and hide yure poodle. These are things that hav to be done, or Mark
    will pak hiz valise with hiz extry shirt collar and hiz lektur on
    the Sandwich Islands, and travel around yure streets, smoking and
    reading the sighns over the store doorways untill lektur time
    begins.

As we-are not likely to touch upon Mark Twain's lecturing, save only
lightly, hereafter, it may be as well to say something of his method at
this period. At all places visited by lecturers there was a committee,
and it was the place of the chairman to introduce the lecturer, a
privilege which he valued, because it gave him a momentary association
with distinction and fame. Clemens was a great disappointment to these
officials. He had learned long ago that he could introduce himself more
effectively than any one else. His usual formula was to present himself
as the chairman of the committee, introducing the lecturer of the
evening; then, with what was in effect a complete change of personality,
to begin his lecture. It was always startling and amusing, always a
success; but the papers finally printed this formula, which took the
freshness out of it, so that he had to invent others. Sometimes he got
up with the frank statement that he was introducing himself because he
had never met any one who could pay a proper tribute to his talents; but
the newspapers printed that too, and he often rose and began with no
introduction at all.

Whatever his method of beginning, Mark Twain's procedure probably was the
purest exemplification of the platform entertainer's art which this
country has ever seen. It was the art that makes you forget the
artisanship, the art that made each hearer forget that he was not being
personally entertained by a new and marvelous friend, who had traveled a
long way for his particular benefit. One listener has written that he
sat "simmering with laughter" through what he supposed was the
continuation of the introduction, waiting for the traditional lecture to
begin, when presently the lecturer, with a bow, disappeared, and it was
over. The listener looked at his watch; he had been there more than an
hour. He thought it could be no more than ten minutes, at most. Many
have tried to set down something of the effect his art produced on them,
but one may not clearly convey the story of a vanished presence and a
silent voice.

There were other pleasant associations in Boston. Howells was there, and
Aldrich; also Bret Harte, who had finished his triumphal progress across
the continent to join the Atlantic group. Clemens appears not to have
met Aldrich before, though their acquaintance had begun a year earlier,
when Aldrich, as editor of Every Saturday, had commented on a poem
entitled, "The Three Aces," which had appeared in the Buffalo Express.
Aldrich had assumed the poem to be the work of Mark Twain, and had
characterized it as "a feeble imitation of Bret Harte's 'Heathen
Chinee.'" Clemens, in a letter, had mildly protested as to the charge of
authorship, and Aldrich had promptly printed the letter with apologetic
explanation. A playful exchange of personal letters followed, and the
beginning of a lifelong friendship.

One of the letters has a special interest here. Clemens had followed his
protest with an apology for it, asking that no further notice be taken of
the matter. Aldrich replied that it was too late to prevent "doing him
justice," as his explanation was already on the press, but that if
Clemens insisted he would withdraw it in the next issue. Clemens then
wrote that he did not want it withdrawn, and explained that he hated to
be accused of plagiarizing Bret Harte, to whom he was deeply indebted for
literary schooling in the California days. Continuing he said:

    Do you know the prettiest fancy and the neatest that ever shot
    through Harte's brain? It was this. When they were trying to
    decide upon a vignette cover for the Overland a grizzly bear (of the
    arms of the State of California) was chosen. Nahl Bros. carved him
    and the page was printed with him in it.

    As a bear he was a success. He was a good bear, but then, it was
    objected, he was an objectless bear--a bear that meant nothing,
    signified nothing, simply stood there, snarling over his shoulder at
    nothing, and was painfully and manifestly a boorish and ill-natured
    intruder upon the fair page. All hands said that none were
    satisfied; they hated badly to give him up, and yet they hated as
    much to have him there when there was no point to him. But
    presently Harte took a pencil and drew two simple lines under his
    feet, and behold he was a magnificent success!--the ancient symbol
    of California savagery, snarling at the approaching type of high and
    progressive civilization, the first Overland locomotive! I just
    think that was nothing less than an inspiration.--[The "bear" was
    that which has always appeared on the Overland cover; the "two
    lines" formed a railway track under his feet. Clemens's original
    letter contained crude sketches illustrating these things.]

Among the Boston group was another Californian, Ralph Keeler, an
eccentric, gifted, and altogether charming fellow, whom Clemens had known
on the Pacific slope. Keeler had been adopted by the Boston writers, and
was grateful and happy accordingly. He was poor of purse, but
inexhaustibly rich in the happier gifts of fortune. He was unfailingly
buoyant, light-hearted, and hopeful. On an infinitesimal capital he had
made a tour of many lands, and had written of it for the Atlantic. In
that charmed circle he was as overflowingly happy as if he had been
admitted to the company of the gods. Keeler was affectionately regarded
by all who knew him, and he offered a sort of worship in return. He
often accompanied Mark Twain on his lecture engagements to the various
outlying towns, and Clemens brought him back to his hotel for breakfast,
where they had good, enjoyable talks together. Once Keeler came eagerly
to the hotel and made his way up to Clemens's room.

"Come with me," he said. "Quick!"

"What is it? What's happened?"

"Don't wait to talk. Come with me."

They tramped briskly through the streets till they reached the public
library, entered, Keeler leading the way, not stopping till he faced a
row of shelves filled with books. He pointed at one of them, his face
radiant with joy.

"Look," he said. "Do you see it?"

Clemens looked carefully now and identified one of the books as a
still-born novel which Keeler had published.

"This is a library," said Keeler, eagerly, "and they've got it!"

His whole being was aglow with the wonder of it. He had been
investigating; the library records showed that in the two years the book
had been there it had been taken out and read three times! It never
occurred to Clemens even to smile. Knowing Mark Twain, one would guess
that his eyes were likely to be filled with tears.

In his book about Mark Twain, Howells tells of a luncheon which Keeler
gave to his more famous associates--Aldrich, Fields, Harte, Clemens, and
Howells himself--a merry informal occasion. Says Howells:

    Nothing remains to me of the happy time but a sense of idle and
    aimless and joyful talk--play, beginning and ending nowhere, of
    eager laughter, of countless good stories from Fields, of a heat-
    lightning shimmer of wit from Aldrich, of an occasional
    concentration of our joint mockeries upon our host, who took it
    gladly; and amid the discourse, so little improving, but so full of
    good-fellowship, Bret Harte's leering dramatization of Clemens's
    mental attitude toward a symposium of Boston illuminates. "Why,
    fellows," he spluttered, "this is the dream of Mark's life," and I
    remember the glance from under Clemens's feathery eyebrows which
    betrayed his enjoyment of the fun.

Very likely Keeler gave that luncheon in celebration of his book's
triumph; it would be like him.

Keeler's end was a mystery. The New York Tribune commissioned him to go
to Cuba to report the facts of some Spanish outrages. He sailed from New
York in the steamer, and was last seen alive the night before the vessel
reached Havana. He had made no secret of his mission, but had discussed
it in his frank, innocent way. There were some Spanish military men on
the ship.

Clemens, commenting on the matter, once said:

"It may be that he was not flung into the sea, still the belief was
general that that was what had happened."

In his book Howells refers to the doubt with which Mark Twain was then
received by the polite culture of Boston; which, on the other hand,
accepted Bret Harte as one of its own, forgiving even social
shortcomings.

The reason is not difficult to understand. Harte had made his appeal
with legitimate fiction of the kind which, however fresh in flavor and
environment, was of a sort to be measured and classified. Harte spoke a
language they could understand; his humor, his pathos, his point of view
were all recognizable. It was an art already standardized by a master.
It is no reflection on the genius of Bret Harte to liken his splendid
achievements to those of Charles Dickens. Much of Harte's work is in no
way inferior to that of his great English prototype. Dickens never wrote
a better short story than "The Outcasts of Poker Flats." He never wrote
as good a short story as "The Luck of Roaring Camp." Boston critics
promptly realized these things and gave Harte his correct rating. That
they failed to do this with Mark Twain, lay chiefly in the fact that he
spoke to them in new and startling tongues. His gospels were likely to
be heresies; his literary eccentricities were all unclassified. Of the
ultrafastidious set Howells tells us that Charles Eliot Norton and Prof.
Francis J. Child were about the only ones who accorded him unqualified
approval. The others smiled and enjoyed him, but with that condescension
which the courtier is likely to accord to motley and the cap and bells.
Only the great, simple-hearted, unbiased multitude, the public, which had
no standards but the direct appeal from one human heart to another, could
recognize immediately his mightier heritage, could exalt and place him on
the throne.




LXXXIV

"ROUGHING IT".

Telegram to Redpath:

    How in the name of God does a man find his way from here to Amherst,
    and when must he start? Give me full particulars, and send a man
    with me. If I had another engagement I would rot before I would
    fill it.                S. L. CLEMENS.

This was at the end of February, and he believed that he was standing on
the platform for the last time. He loathed the drudgery of the work, and
he considered there was no further need. He was no longer in debt, and
his income he accounted ample. His new book, 'Roughing It',--[It was
Bliss who had given the new book the title of Roughing It. Innocents at
Home had been its provision title, certainly a misleading one, though it
has been retained in England for the second volume; for what reason it
would be difficult to explain.]--had had a large advance sale, and its
earnings promised to rival those of the 'Innocents'. He resolved in the
future to confine himself to the trade and profits of authorship.

The new book had advantages in its favor. Issued early in the year, it
was offered at the best canvassing season; particularly so, as the
author's lectures had prepared the public for its reception. Furthermore,
it dealt with the most picturesque phases of American life, scenes and
episodes vastly interesting at that time, and peculiarly adapted to Mark
Twain's literary expression. In a different way 'Roughing It' is quite
as remarkable as 'The Innocents Abroad.' If it has less charm, it has
greater interest, and it is by no means without charm. There is
something delicious, for instance, in this bit of pure enjoyment of the
first day's overland travel:

    It was now just dawn, and as we stretched our cramped legs full
    length on the mail-sacks, and gazed out through the windows across
    the wide wastes of greensward clad in cool, powdery mist to where
    there was an expectant look in the Eastern horizon, our perfect
    enjoyment took the form of a tranquil and contented ecstasy. The
    stage whirled along at a spanking gait, the breeze flapping the
    curtains and suspended coats in a most exhilarating way; the cradle
    swayed and swung luxuriously, the pattering of the horses' hoofs,
    the cracking of the driver's whip, and his "Hi-yi! g'lang!" were
    music; the spinning ground and the waltzing trees appeared to give
    us a mute hurrah as we went by, and then slack up and look after us
    with interest and envy, or something; and as we lay and smoked the
    pipe of peace, and compared all this luxury with the years of
    tiresome city life that had gone before it, we felt that there was
    only one complete and satisfying happiness in the world, and we had
    found it.

Also, there is that lofty presentation of South Pass, and a picture of
the alkali desert, so parching, so withering in its choking realism, that
it makes the throat ache and the tongue dry to read it. Just a bit of
the desert in passing:

    The sun beats down with a dead, blistering, relentless malignity;
    the perspiration is welling from every pore in man and beast, but
    scarcely a sign of it finds its way to the surface--it is absorbed
    before it gets there; there is not the faintest breath of air
    stirring; there is not a merciful shred of cloud in all the
    brilliant firmament; there is not a living creature visible in any
    direction whither one searches the blank level that stretches its
    monotonous miles on every hand; there is not a sound, not a sigh,
    not a whisper, not a buzz, or a whir of wings, or distant pipe of
    bird; not even a sob from the lost souls that doubtless people that
    dead air.

As for the humor of the book, it has been chiefly famous for that. "Buck
Fanshaw's Funeral" has become a classic, and the purchase of the "Mexican
Plug." But it is to no purpose to review the book here in detail. We
have already reviewed the life and environment out of which it grew.

Without doubt the story would have contained more of the poetic and
contemplative, in which he was always at his best, if the subject itself,
as in the Innocents, had lent itself oftener to this form of writing. It
was the lack of that halo perhaps which caused the new book never quite
to rank with its great forerunner in public favor. There could hardly be
any other reason. It presented a fresher theme; it abounded in humor;
technically, it was better written; seemingly it had all the elements of
popularity and of permanence. It did, in fact, possess these qualities,
but its sales, except during the earlier months of its canvass, never
quite equaled those of The Innocents Abroad.

'Roughing It' was accepted by the public for just what it was and is, a
great picture of the Overland Pioneer days--a marvelous picture of
frontier aspects at a time when the frontier itself, even with its
hardships and its tragedies, was little more than a vast primal joke;
when all frontiersmen were obliged to be laughing philosophers in order
to survive the stress of its warfares.

A word here about this Western humor: It is a distinct product. It grew
out of a distinct condition--the battle with the frontier. The fight was
so desperate, to take it seriously was to surrender. Women laughed that
they might not weep; men, when they could no longer swear. "Western
humor" was the result. It is the freshest, wildest humor in the world,
but there is tragedy behind it.

'Roughing It' presented the picture of those early conditions with the
startling vividness and truth of a great novel, which, in effect, it was.
It was not accurate history, even of the author's own adventures. It was
true in its aspects, rather than in its details. The greater artist
disregards the truth of detail to render more strikingly a phase or a
condition, to produce an atmosphere, to reconstruct a vanished time. This
was what Mark Twain did in 'Roughing It'. He told the story of overland
travel and the frontier, for his own and future generations, in what is
essentially a picaresque novel, a work of unperishing fiction, founded on
fact.

The sales of 'Roughing It' during the first three months aggregated
nearly forty thousand copies, and the author was lavishly elate
accordingly. To Orion (who had already closed his career with Bliss, by
exercise of those hereditary eccentricities through which he so often
came to grief) he gave $1,000 out of the first royalty check, in
acknowledgment of the memorandum book and other data which Orion had
supplied. Clemens believed the new book would sell one hundred thousand
copies within the year; but the sale diminished presently, and at the end
of the first year it was considerably behind the Innocents for the same
period. As already stated, it required ten years for Roughing It to
reach the one-hundred-thousand mark, which the Innocents reached in
three.




LXXXV

A BIRTH, A DEATH, AND A VOYAGE

The year 1872 was an eventful one in Mark Twain's life. At Elmira, on
March 19th, his second child, a little girl, whom they named Susan
Olivia, was born. On June 2d, in the new home in Hartford, to which they
had recently moved, his first child, a little boy, Langdon, died. He had
never been strong, his wavering life had often been uncertain, always
more of the spirit than the body, and in Elmira he contracted a heavy
cold, or perhaps it was diphtheria from the beginning. In later years,
whenever Clemens spoke of the little fellow, he never failed to accuse
himself of having been the cause of the child's death. It was Mrs.
Clemens's custom to drive out each morning with Langdon, and once when
she was unable to go Clemens himself went instead.

"I should not have been permitted to do it," he said, remembering. "I was
not qualified for any such responsibility as that. Some one should have
gone who had at least the rudiments of a mind. Necessarily I would lose
myself dreaming. After a while the coachman looked around and noticed
that the carriage-robes had dropped away from the little fellow, and that
he was exposed to the chilly air. He called my attention to it, but it
was too late. Tonsilitis or something of the sort set in, and he did not
get any better, so we took him to Hartford. There it was pronounced
diphtheria, and of course he died."

So, with or without reason, he added the blame of another tragedy to the
heavy burden of remorse which he would go on piling up while he lived.

The blow was a terrible one to Mrs. Clemens; even the comfort of the
little new baby on her arm could not ease the ache in her breast. It
seemed to her that death was pursuing her. In one of her letters she
says:

"I feel so often as if my path is to be lined with graves," and she
expresses the wish that she may drop out of life herself before her
sister and her husband--a wish which the years would grant.

They did not return to Elmira, for it was thought that the air of the
shore would be better for the little girl; so they spent the summer at
Saybrook, Connecticut, at Fenwick Hall, leaving Orion and his wife in
charge of the house at Hartford.

Beyond a few sketches, Clemens did very little literary work that summer,
but he planned a trip to Europe, and he invented what is still known and
sold as the "Mark Twain Scrap-Book."

He wrote to Orion of his proposed trip to England, and dilated upon his
scrap-book with considerable enthusiasm. The idea had grown out of the
inconvenience of finding a paste-jar, and the general mussiness of
scrap-book keeping. His new plan was a self-pasting scrap-book with the
gum laid on in narrow strips, requiring only to be dampened with a sponge
or other moist substance to be ready for the clipping. He states that he
intends to put the invention into the hands of Slote, Woodman & Co., of
whom Dan Slote, his old Quaker City room-mate, was the senior partner,
and have it manufactured for the trade.

About this time began Mark Twain's long and active interest in copyright.
Previously he had not much considered the subject; he had taken it for
granted there was no step that he could take, while international piracy
was a recognized institution. On both sides of the water books were
appropriated, often without profit, sometimes even without credit, to the
author. To tell the truth, Clemens had at first regarded it rather in
the nature of a compliment that his books should be thought worth
pirating in England, but as time passed he realized that he was paying
heavily for this recognition. Furthermore, he decided that he was
forfeiting a right; rather that he was being deprived of it: something
which it was in his nature to resent.

When 'Roughing It' had been ready for issue he agreed with Bliss that
they should try the experiment of copyrighting it in England, and see how
far the law would protect them against the voracious little publisher,
who thus far had not only snapped up everything bearing Mark Twain's
signature, but had included in a volume of Mark Twain sketches certain
examples of very weak humor with which Mark Twain had been previously
unfamiliar.

Whatever the English pirate's opinion of the copyright protection of
'Roughing It' may have been, he did not attempt to violate it. This was
gratifying. Clemens came to regard England as a friendly power. He
decided to visit it and spy out the land. He would make the acquaintance
of its people and institutions and write a book, which would do these
things justice.

He gave out no word of his real purpose. He merely said that he was
going over to see his English publishers, and perhaps to arrange for a
few lectures. He provided himself with some stylographic note-books, by
which he could produce two copies of his daily memoranda--one for himself
and one to mail to Mrs. Clemens--and sailed on the Scotia August 21,
1872.

Arriving in Liverpool he took train for London, and presently the
wonderful charm of that old, finished country broke upon him. His "first
hour in England was an hour of delight," he records; "of rapture and
ecstasy. These are the best words I can find, but they are not adequate;
they are not strong enough to convey the feeling which this first vision
of rural England brought me." Then he noticed that the gentleman
opposite in his compartment paid no attention to the scenery, but was
absorbed in a green-covered volume. He was so absorbed in it that, by
and by, Clemens's curiosity was aroused. He shifted his position a
little and his eye caught the title. It was the first volume of the
English edition of The Innocents Abroad. This was gratifying for a
moment; then he remembered that the man had never laughed, never even
smiled during the hour of his steady reading. Clemens recalled what he
had heard of the English lack of humor. He wondered if this was a fair
example of it, and if the man could be really taking seriously every word
he was reading. Clemens could not look at the scenery any more for
watching his fellow-passenger, waiting with a fascinated interest for the
paragraph that would break up that iron-clad solemnity. It did not come.
During all the rest of the trip to London the atmosphere of the
compartment remained heavy with gloom.

He drove to the Langham Hotel, always popular with Americans, established
himself, and went to look up his publishers. He found the Routledges
about to sit down to luncheon in a private room, up-stairs, in their
publishing house. He joined them, and not a soul stirred from that table
again until evening. The Routledges had never heard Mark Twain talk
before, never heard any one talk who in the least resembled him. Various
refreshments were served during the afternoon, came and went, while this
marvelous creature talked on and they listened, reveling, and wondering
if America had any more of that sort at home. By and by dinner was
served; then after a long time, when there was no further excuse for
keeping him there, they took him to the Savage Club, where there were yet
other refreshments and a gathering of the clans to welcome this new
arrival as a being from some remote and unfamiliar star.

Tom Hood, the younger, was there, and Harry Lee, and Stanley the
explorer, who had but just returned from finding Livingstone, and Henry
Irving, and many another whose name remains, though the owners of those
names are all dead now, and their laughter and their good-fellowship are
only a part of that intangible fabric which we call the past.'--[Clemens
had first known Stanley as a newspaper man. "I first met him when he
reported a lecture of mine in St. Louis," he said once in a conversation
where the name of Stanley was mentioned.]




LXXXVI

ENGLAND

From that night Mark Twain's stay in England could not properly be called
a gloomy one.

Routledge, Hood, Lee, and, in fact, all literary London, set themselves
the task of giving him a good time. Whatever place of interest they
could think of he was taken there; whatever there was to see he saw it.
Dinners, receptions, and assemblies were not complete without him. The
White Friars' Club and others gave banquets in his honor. He was the
sensation of the day. When he rose to speak on these occasions he was
greeted with wild cheers. Whatever he said they eagerly applauded--too
eagerly sometimes, in the fear that they might be regarded as insensible
to American humor. Other speakers delighted in chaffing him in order to
provoke his retorts. When a speaker humorously referred to his American
habit of carrying a cotton umbrella, his reply that he followed this
custom because a cotton umbrella was the only kind of an umbrella that an
Englishman wouldn't steal, was all over England next day, and regarded as
one of the finest examples of wit since the days of Swift.

The suddenness and completeness of his acceptance by the great ones of
London rather overwhelmed and frightened him made him timid. Joaquin
Miller writes:

    He was shy as a girl, although time was already coyly flirting white
    flowers at his temples, and could hardly be coaxed to meet the
    learned and great who wanted to take him by the hand.

Many came to call on him at his hotel, among them Charles Reade and Canon
Kingsley. Kingsley came twice without finding him; then wrote, asking
for an appointment. Reade invited his assistance on a novel. Indeed, it
was in England that Mark Twain was first made to feel that he had come
into his rightful heritage. Whatever may have been the doubts concerning
him in America, there was no question in England. Howells says:

    In England rank, fashion, and culture rejoiced in him. Lord mayors,
    lord chief justices, and magnates of many kinds were his hosts; he
    was desired in country houses, and his bold genius captivated the
    favor of periodicals which spurned the rest of our nation.

After that first visit of Mark Twain's, when Americans in England,
referring to their great statesmen, authors, and the like, naturally
mentioned the names of Seward, Webster, Lowell, or Holmes, the English
comment was likely to be: "Never mind those. We can turn out academic
Sewards by the dozen, and cultured humorists like Lowell and Holmes by
the score. Tell us of Lincoln, Artemus Ward, and Mark Twain. We cannot
match these; they interest us." And it was true. History could not
match them, for they were unique.

Clemens would have been more than human if in time he had not realized
the fuller meaning of this triumph, and exulted in it a little to the
folks at home. There never lived a more modest, less pretentious, less
aggressive man than Mark Twain, but there never lived a man who took a
more childlike delight in genuine appreciation; and, being childlike, it
was only human that he should wish those nearest to him to share his
happiness. After one memorable affair he wrote:

    I have been received in a sort of tremendous way to-night by the
    brains of London, assembled at the annual dinner of the sheriffs of
    London; mine being (between you and me) a name which was received
    with a thundering outburst of spontaneous applause when the long
    list of guests was called.

I might have perished on the spot but for the friendly support and
assistance of my excellent friend, Sir John Bennett.

This letter does not tell all of the incident or the real reason why he
might have perished on the spot. During the long roll-call of guests he
had lost interest a little, and was conversing in whispers with his
"excellent friend," Sir John Bennett, stopping to applaud now and then
when the applause of the others indicated that some distinguished name
had been pronounced. All at once the applause broke out with great
vehemence. This must be some very distinguished person indeed. He
joined in it with great enthusiasm. When it was over he whispered to Sir
John:

"Whose name was that we were just applauding?"

"Mark Twain's."

Whereupon the support was needed.

Poor little pirate Hotten did not have a happy time during this visit. He
had reveled in the prospect at first, for he anticipated a large increase
to be derived from his purloined property; but suddenly, one morning, he
was aghast to find in the Spectator a signed letter from Mark Twain, in
which he was repudiated, referred to as "John Camden Hottentot," an
unsavory person generally. Hotten also sent a letter to the Spectator,
in which he attempted to justify himself, but it was a feeble
performance. Clemens prepared two other communications, each worse than
the other and both more destructive than the first one. But these were
only to relieve his mind. He did not print them. In one of them he
pursued the fancy of John Camden Hottentot, whom he offers as a specimen
to the Zoological Gardens.

It is not a bird. It is not a man. It is not a fish. It does not seem
to be in all respects a reptile. It has the body and features of a man,
but scarcely any of the instincts that belong to such a structure.... I
am sure that this singular little creature is the missing link between
the man and the hyena.

Hotten had preyed upon explorer Stanley and libeled him in a so-called.
biography to a degree that had really aroused some feeling against
Stanley in England. Only for the moment--the Queen invited Stanley to
luncheon, and newspaper criticism ceased. Hotten was in general
disrepute, therefore, so it was not worth while throwing a second brick
at him.

In fact, now that Clemens had expended his venom, on paper, Hotten seemed
to him rather an amusing figure than otherwise. An incident grew out of
it all, however, that was not amusing. E. P. Hingston, whom the reader
may remember as having been with Artemus Ward in Virginia City, and one
of that happy group that wined and dined the year away, had been engaged
by Hotten to write the introductory to his edition of The Innocents
Abroad. It was a well-written, highly complimentary appreciation.
Hingston did not dream that he was committing an offense, nor did Clemens
himself regard it as such in the beginning.

But Mark Twain's views had undergone a radical change, and with
characteristic dismissal of previous conditions he had forgotten that he
had ever had any other views than those he now held. Hingston was in
London, and one evening, at a gathering, approached Clemens with
outstretched hand. But Clemens failed to see Hingston's hand or to
recognize him. In after-years his conscience hurt him terribly for this.
He remembered it only with remorse and shame. Once, in his old age, he
spoke of it with deep sorrow.




LXXXVII

THE BOOK THAT WAS NEVER WRITTEN

The book on England, which he had prepared for so carefully, was never
written. Hundreds of the stylographic pages were filled, and the
duplicates sent home for the entertainment of Olivia Clemens, but the
notes were not completed, and the actual writing was never begun. There
was too much sociability in London for one thing, and then he found that
he could not write entertainingly of England without introducing too many
personalities, and running the risk of offending those who had taken him
into their hearts and homes. In a word, he would have to write too
seriously or not at all.

He began his memoranda industriously enough, and the volume might have
been as charming and as valuable as any he has left behind. The reader
will hardly fail to find a few of the entries interesting. They are
offered here as examples of his daily observation during those early
weeks of his stay, and to show somewhat of his purpose:

                    AN EXPATRIATE

    There was once an American thief who fled his country and took
    refuge in England. He dressed himself after the fashion of the
    Londoners, and taught his tongue the peculiarities of the London
    pronunciation and did his best in all ways to pass himself for a
    native. But he did two fatal things: he stopped at the Langham
    Hotel, and the first trip he took was to visit Stratford-on-Avon and
    the grave of Shakespeare. These things betrayed his nationality.

                  STANLEY AND THE QUEEN

    See the power a monarch wields! When I arrived here, two weeks ago,
    the papers and geographers were in a fair way to eat poor Stanley up
    without salt or sauce. The Queen says, "Come four hundred miles up
    into Scotland and sit at my luncheon-table fifteen minutes"; which,
    being translated, means, "Gentlemen, I believe in this man and take
    him under my protection"; and not another yelp is heard.

                  AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM

    What a place it is!

    Mention some very rare curiosity of a peculiar nature--a something
    which you have read about somewhere but never seen--they show you a
    dozen! They show you all the possible varieties of that thing!
    They show you curiously wrought jeweled necklaces of beaten gold,
    worn by the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Etruscans, Greeks,
    Britons--every people of the forgotten ages, indeed. They show you
    the ornaments of all the tribes and peoples that live or ever did
    live. Then they show you a cast taken from Cromwell's face in
    death; then the venerable vase that once contained the ashes of
    Xerxes.

    I am wonderfully thankful for the British Museum. Nobody comes
    bothering around me--nobody elbows me--all the room and all the
    light I want, under this huge dome--no disturbing noises--and people
    standing ready to bring me a copy of pretty much any book that ever
    was printed under the sun--and if I choose to go wandering about the
    long corridors and galleries of the great building the secrets of
    all the earth and all the ages axe laid open to me. I am not
    capable of expressing my gratitude for the British Museum--it seems
    as if I do not know any but little words and weak ones.

                WESTMINSTER ABBEY BY NIGHT

    It was past eleven o'clock and I was just going to bed. But this
    friend of mine was as reliable as he was eccentric, and so there was
    not a doubt in my mind that his "expedition" had merit in it. I put
    on my coat and boots again, and we drove away.

    "Where is it? Where are we going?"

    "Don't worry. You'll see."

    He was not inclined to talk. So I thought this must be a weighty
    matter. My curiosity grew with the minutes, but I kept it manfully
    under the surface. I watched the lamps, the signs, the numbers as
    we thundered down the long street. I am always lost in London, day
    or night. It was very chilly, almost bleak. People leaned against
    the gusty blasts as if it were the dead of winter. The crowds grew
    thinner and thinner, and the noises waxed faint and seemed far away.
    The sky was overcast and threatening. We drove on, and still on,
    till I wondered if we were ever going to stop. At last we passed by
    a spacious bridge and a vast building, and presently entered a
    gateway, passed through a sort of tunnel, and stopped in a court
    surrounded by the black outlines of a great edifice. Then we
    alighted, walked a dozen steps or so, and waited. In a little while
    footsteps were heard, a man emerged from the darkness, and we
    dropped into his wake without saying anything. He led us under an
    archway of masonry, and from that into a roomy tunnel, through a
    tall iron gate, which he locked behind us. We followed him down
    this tunnel, guided more by his footsteps on the stone flagging than
    by anything we could very distinctly see. At the end of it we came
    to another iron gate, and our conductor stopped there and lit a
    bull's-eye lantern. Then he unlocked the gate; and I wished he had
    oiled it first, it grated so dismally. The gate swung open and we
    stood on the threshold of what seemed a limitless domed and pillared
    cavern, carved out of the solid darkness. The conductor and my
    friend took off their hats reverently, and I did likewise. For the
    moment that we stood thus there was not a sound, and the stillness
    seemed to add to the solemnity of the gloom. I looked my inquiry!

    "It is the tomb of the great dead of England-Westminster Abbey."...

    We were among the tombs; on every hand dull shapes of men, sitting,
    standing, or stooping, inspected us curiously out of the darkness
    --reached out their hands toward us--some appealing, some beckoning,
    some warning us away. Effigies they were--statues over the graves;
    but they looked human and natural in the murky shadows. Now a
    little half-grown black and white cat squeezed herself through the
    bars of the iron gate and came purring lovingly about us, unawed by
    the time or the place, unimpressed by the marble pomp that
    sepulchers a line of mighty dead that ends with a great author of
    yesterday and began with a sceptered monarch away back in the dawn
    of history, more than twelve hundred years ago . . . .

    Mr. Wright flashed his lantern first upon this object and then upon
    that, and kept up a running commentary that showed there was nothing
    about the venerable Abbey that was trivial in his eyes or void of
    interest. He is a man in authority, being superintendent, and his
    daily business keeps him familiar with every nook and corner of the
    great pile. Casting a luminous ray now here, now yonder, he would
    say:

    "Observe the height of the Abbey--one hundred and three feet to the
    base of the roof; I measured it myself the other day. Notice the
    base of this column--old, very old--hundreds and hundreds of years
    --and how well they knew how to build in those old days! Notice it
    --every stone is laid horizontally; that is to say, just as nature
    laid it originally in the quarry not set up edgewise; in our day
    some people set them on edge, and then wonder why they split and
    flake. Architects cannot teach nature anything. Let me remove this
    matting--it is put here to preserve the pavement; now there is a bit
    of pavement that is seven hundred years old; you can see by these
    scattering clusters of colored mosaics how beautiful it was before
    time and sacrilegious idlers marred it. Now there, in the border,
    was an inscription, once see, follow the circle-you can trace it by
    the ornaments that have been pulled out--here is an A and there is
    an O, and yonder another A--all beautiful Old English capitals;
    there is no telling what the inscription was--no record left now.
    Now move along in this direction, if you please. Yonder is where
    old King Sebert the Saxon lies his monument is the oldest one in the
    Abbey; Sebert died in 616,--[Clemens probably misunderstood the
    name. It was Ethelbert who died in 616. The name Sebert does not
    appear in any Saxon annals accessible to the author.]--and that's
    as much, as twelve hundred and fifty years ago think of it! Twelve
    hundred and fifty years! Now yonder is the last one--Charles
    Dickens--there on the floor, with the brass letters on the slab--and
    to this day the people come and put flowers on it.... There is
    Garrick's monument; and Addison's, and Thackeray's bust--and
    Macaulay lies there. And close to Dickens and Garrick lie Sheridan
    and Dr. Johnson--and here is old Parr....

    "That stone there covers Campbell the poet. Here are names you know
    pretty well--Milton, and Gray who wrote the Elegy, and Butler who
    wrote Hudibras; and Edmund Spenser, and Ben Jonson--there are three
    tablets to him scattered about the Abbey, and all got 'O, Rare Ben
    Jonson' cut on them. You were standing on one of them just now he
    is buried standing up. There used to be a tradition here that
    explains it. The story goes that he did not dare ask to be buried
    in the Abbey, so he asked King James if he would make him a present
    of eighteen inches of English ground, and the King said 'yes,' and
    asked him where he would have it, and he said in Westminster Abbey.
    Well, the King wouldn't go back on his word, and so there he is,
    sure enough-stood up on end."

The reader may regret that there are not more of these entries, and that
the book itself was never written. Just when he gave up the project is
not recorded. He was urged to lecture in London, but declined. To Mrs.
Clemens, in September, he wrote:

Everybody says lecture, lecture, lecture, but I have not the least idea
of doing it; certainly not at present. Mr. Dolby, who took Dickens to
America, is coming to talk business tomorrow, though I have sent him word
once before that I can't be hired to talk here; because I have no time to
spare. There is too much sociability; I do not get along fast enough
with work.

In October he declared that he was very homesick, and proposed that Mrs.
Clemens and Susie join him at once in London, unless she would prefer to
have him come home for the winter and all of them return to London in the
spring. So it is likely that the book was not then abandoned. He felt
that his visit was by no means ended; that it was, in fact, only just
begun, but he wanted the ones he loved most to share it with him. To his
mother and sister, in November, he wrote:

I came here to take notes for a book, but I haven't done much but attend
dinners and make speeches. I have had a jolly good time, and I do hate
to go away from these English folks; they make a stranger feel entirely
at home, and they laugh so easily that it is a comfort to make
after-dinner speeches here. I have made hundreds of friends; and last
night, in the crush at the opening of the new Guild Hall Library and
Museum, I was surprised to meet a familiar face every other step.

All his impressions of England had been happy ones. He could deliver a
gentle satire now and then at certain British institutions--certain
London localities and features--as in his speech at the Savage Club,
--[September 28, 1872. This is probably the most characteristic speech
made by Mark Twain during his first London visit; the reader will find it
in full in Appendix L, at the end of last volume.]--but taking the snug
island as a whole, its people, its institutions, its fair, rural aspects,
he had found in it only delight. To Mrs. Crane he wrote:

    If you and Theodore will come over in the spring with Livy and me,
    and spend the summer, you shall see a country that is so beautiful
    that you will be obliged to believe in fairy-land. There is nothing
    like it elsewhere on the globe. You should have a season ticket and
    travel up and down every day between London and Oxford and worship
    nature.

    And Theodore can browse with me among dusty old dens that look now
    as they looked five hundred years ago; and puzzle over books in the
    British Museum that were made before Christ was born; and in the
    customs of their public dinners, and the ceremonies of every
    official act, and the dresses of a thousand dignitaries, trace the
    speech and manners of all the centuries that have dragged their
    lagging decades over England since the Heptarchy fell asunder. I
    would a good deal rather live here if I could get the rest of you
    over.

He sailed November 12th, on the Batavia, loaded with Christmas presents
for everybody; jewelry, furs, laces; also a practical steam-engine for
his namesake, Sam Moffett. Half-way across the Atlantic the Batavia ran
into a hurricane and was badly damaged by heavy seas, and driven far out
of her course. It was a lucky event on the whole, for she fell in with a
water-logged lumber bark, a complete wreck, with nine surviving sailors
clinging to her rigging. In the midst of the wild gale a lifeboat was
launched and the perishing men were rescued. Clemens prepared a graphic
report of the matter for the Royal Humane Society, asking that medals be
conferred upon the brave rescuers, a document that was signed by his
fellow-passengers and obtained for the men complete recognition and wide
celebrity. Closing, the writer said:

    As might have been anticipated, if I have been of any service toward
    rescuing these nine shipwrecked human beings by standing around the
    deck in a furious storm, without an umbrella, keeping an eye on
    things and seeing that they were done right, and yelling whenever a
    cheer seemed to be the important thing, I am glad and I am
    satisfied. I ask no reward. I would do it again under the same
    circumstances. But what I do plead for, earnestly and sincerely, is
    that the Royal Humane Society will remember our captain and our
    life-boat crew, and in so remembering them increase the high honor
    and esteem in which the society is held all over the civilized
    world.

The Batavia reached New York November 26, 1872. Mark Twain had been
absent three months, during which he had been brought to at least a
partial realization of what his work meant to him and to mankind.

An election had taken place during his absence--an election which
gratified him deeply, for it had resulted in the second presidency of
General Grant and in the defeat of Horace Greeley, whom he admired
perhaps, but not as presidential material. To Thomas Nast, who had aided
very effectually in Mr. Greeley's overwhelming defeat, Clemens wrote:

Nast, you more than any other man have won a prodigious victory for
Grant--I mean, rather, for civilization and progress. Those pictures
were simply marvelous, and if any man in the land has a right to hold his
head up and be honestly proud of his share in this year's vast events
that man is unquestionably yourself. We all do sincerely honor you, and
are proud of you.

Horace Greeley's peculiar abilities and eccentricities won celebrity for
him, rather than voters. Mark Twain once said of him:

"He was a great man, an honest man, and served his, country well and was
an honor to it. Also, he was a good-natured man, but abrupt with
strangers if they annoyed him when he was busy. He was profane, but that
is nothing; the best of us is that. I did not know him well, but only
just casually, and by accident. I never met him but once. I called on
him in the Tribune office, but I was not intending to. I was looking for
Whitelaw Reid, and got into the wrong den. He was alone at his desk,
writing, and we conversed--not long, but just a little. I asked him if
he was well, and he said, 'What the hell do you want?' Well, I couldn't
remember what I wanted, so I said I would call again. But I didn't."

Clemens did not always tell the incident just in this way. Sometimes it
was John Hay he was looking for instead of Reid, and the conversation
with Greeley varied; but perhaps there was a germ of history under it
somewhere, and at any rate it could have happened well enough, and not
have been out of character with either of the men.




LXXXVIII

"THE GILDED AGE"

Mark Twain did not go on the lecture circuit that winter. Redpath had
besought him as usual, and even in midsummer had written:

"Will you? Won't you? We have seven thousand to eight thousand dollars
in engagements recorded for you," and he named a list of towns ranging
geographically from Boston to St. Paul.

But Clemens had no intention then of ever lecturing any more, and again
in November, from London, he announced (to Redpath):

"When I yell again for less than $500 I'll be pretty hungry, but I
haven't any intention of yelling at any price."

Redpath pursued him, and in January proposed $400 for a single night in
Philadelphia, but without result. He did lecture two nights in Steinway
Hall for the Mercantile Library Association, on the basis of half
profits, netting $1,300 for the two nights as his share; and he lectured
one night in Hartford, at a profit Of $1,500, for charity. Father
Hawley, of Hartford, had announced that his missionary work was suffering
for lack of funds. Some of his people were actually without food, he
said, their children crying with hunger. No one ever responded to an
appeal like that quicker than Samuel Clemens. He offered to deliver a
lecture free, and to bear an equal proportion of whatever expenses were
incurred by the committee of eight who agreed to join in forwarding the
project. He gave the Sandwich Island lecture, and at the close of it a
large card was handed him with the figures of the receipts printed upon
it. It was held up to view, and the house broke into a storm of cheers.

He did very little writing during the early weeks following his return.
Early in the year (January 3 and 6, 1873) he contributed two Sandwich
Island letters to the Tribune, in which, in his own peculiar fashion, he
urged annexation.

"We must annex those people," he declared, and proceeded to specify the
blessings we could give them, such as "leather-headed juries, the
insanity law, and the Tweed Ring."

    We can confer Woodhull and Clafin on them, and George Francis Train.
    We can give them lecturers! I will go myself.

    We can make that little bunch of sleepy islands the hottest corner
    on earth, and array it in the moral splendor of our high and holy
    civilization. Annexation is what the poor islanders need!

    "Shall we, to men benighted, the lamp of life deny?"

His success in England became an incentive to certain American
institutions to recognize his gifts at home. Early in the year he was
dined as the guest of the Lotos Club of New York, and a week or two later
elected to its membership. This was but a beginning. Some new
membership or honor was offered every little while, and so many banquets
that he finally invented a set form for declining them. He was not yet
recognized as the foremost American man of letters, but undoubtedly he
had become the most popular; and Edwin Whipple, writing at this time, or
but little later, said:

"Mark Twain is regarded chiefly as a humorist, but the exercise of his
real talents would rank him with the ablest of our authors in the past
fifty years." So he was beginning to be "discovered" in high places.

It was during this winter that the Clemens household enjoyed its first
real home life in Hartford, its first real home life anywhere since those
earliest days of marriage. The Hooker mansion was a comfortable place.
The little family had comparatively good health. Their old friends were
stanch and lavishly warm-hearted, and they had added many new ones. Their
fireside was a delightful nucleus around which gathered those they cared
for most, the Twichells, the Warner families, the Trumbulls--all certain
of a welcome there. George Warner, only a little while ago, remembering,
said:

"The Clemens house was the only one I have ever known where there was
never any preoccupation in the evenings, and where visitors were always
welcome. Clemens was the best kind of a host; his evenings after dinner
were an unending flow of stories."

Friends living near by usually came and went at will, often without the
ceremony of knocking or formal leave-taking. They were more like one
great family in that neighborhood, with a community of interests, a unity
of ideals. The Warner families and the Clemenses were particularly
intimate, and out of their association grew Mark Twain's next important
literary undertaking, his collaboration with Charles Dudley Warner in
'The Gilded Age'.

A number of more or less absurd stories have been printed about the
origin of this book. It was a very simple matter, a perfectly natural
development.

At the dinner-table one night, with the Warners present, criticisms of
recent novels were offered, with the usual freedom and severity of
dinner-table talk. The husbands were inclined to treat rather lightly
the novels in which their wives were finding entertainment. The wives
naturally retorted that the proper thing for the husbands to do was to
furnish the American people with better ones. This was regarded in the
nature of a challenge, and as such was accepted--mutually accepted: that
is to say, in partnership. On the spur of the moment Clemens and Warner
agreed that they would do a novel together, that they would begin it
immediately. This is the whole story of the book's origin; so far, at
least, as the collaboration is concerned. Clemens, in fact, had the
beginning of a story in his mind, but had been unwilling to undertake an
extended work of fiction alone. He welcomed only too eagerly, therefore,
the proposition of joint authorship. His purpose was to write a tale
around that lovable character of his youth, his mother's cousin, James
Lampton--to let that gentle visionary stand as the central figure against
a proper background. The idea appealed to Warner, and there was no delay
in the beginning. Clemens immediately set to work and completed 399
pages of the manuscript, the first eleven chapters of the book, before
the early flush of enthusiasm waned.

Warner came over then, and Clemens read it aloud to him. Warner had some
plans for the story, and took it up at this point, and continued it
through the next twelve chapters; and so they worked alternately, "in the
superstition," as Mark Twain long afterward declared, "that we were
writing one coherent yarn, when I suppose, as a matter of fact, we were
writing two incoherent ones."--[The reader may be interested in the
division of labor. Clemens wrote chapters I to XI; also chapters XXIV,
XXV, XXVII, XXVIII, XXX, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXVI, XXXVII, XLII,
XLIII, XLV, LI, LII, LIII, LVII, LIX, LX, LXI, LXII, and portions of
chapters XXXV, XLIX, LVI. Warner wrote chapters XII to XXIII; also
chapters XXVI, XXIX, XXXI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XL, XLI, XLIV, XLVI, XLVII,
XLVIII, L, LIV, LV, LVIII, LXIII, and portions of chapters XXXV, XLIX,
and LVI. The work was therefore very evenly divided.

There was another co-worker on The Gilded Age before the book was finally
completed. This was J. Hammond Trumbull, who prepared the variegated,
marvelous cryptographic chapter headings: Trumbull was the most learned
man that ever lived in Hartford. He was familiar with all literary and
scientific data, and according to Clemens could swear in twenty-seven
languages. It was thought to be a choice idea to get Trumbull to supply
a lingual medley of quotations to precede the chapters in the new book,
the purpose being to excite interest and possibly to amuse the reader--a
purpose which to some extent appears to have miscarried.]

The book was begun in February and finished in April, so the work did not
lag. The result, if not highly artistic, made astonishingly good
reading. Warner had the touch of romance, Clemens, the gift of creating,
or at least of portraying, human realities. Most of his characters
reflected intimate personalities of his early life. Besides the
apotheosis of James Lampton into the immortal Sellers, Orion became
Washington Hawkins, Squire Clemens the judge, while Mark Twain's own
personality, in a greater or lesser degree, is reflected in most of his
creations. As for the Tennessee land, so long a will-o'the-wisp and a
bugbear, it became tangible property at last. Only a year or two before
Clemens had written to Orion:

    Oh, here! I don't want to be consulted at all about Tennessee. I
    don't want it even mentioned to me. When I make a suggestion it is
    for you to act upon it or throw it aside, but I beseech you never to
    ask my advice, opinion, or consent about that hated property.

But it came in good play now. It is the important theme of the story.

Mark Twain was well qualified to construct his share of the tale. He
knew his characters, their lives, and their atmospheres perfectly.
Senator Dilworthy (otherwise Senator Pomeroy, of Kansas, then notorious
for attempted vote-buying) was familiar enough. That winter in
Washington had acquainted Clemens with the life there, its political
intrigues, and the disrepute of Congress. Warner was equally well
qualified for his share of the undertaking, and the chief criticism that
one may offer is the one stated by Clemens himself--that the divisions of
the tale remain divisions rather than unity.

As for the story itself--the romance and tragedy of it--the character of
Laura in the hands of either author is one not easy to forget. Whether
this means that the work is well done, or only strikingly done, the
reader himself must judge. Morally, the character is not justified.
Laura was a victim of circumstance from the beginning. There could be no
poetic justice in her doom. To drag her out of a steamer wreck, only to
make her the victim of a scoundrel, later an adventuress, and finally a
murderess, all may be good art, but of a very bad kind. Laura is a sort
of American Becky Sharp; but there is retributive justice in Becky's
fate, whereas Laura's doom is warranted only by the author's whim. As
for her end, whatever the virtuous public of that day might have done, a
present-day audience would not have pelted her from the stage, destroyed
her future, taken away her life.

The authors regarded their work highly when it was finished, but that is
nothing. Any author regards his work highly at the moment of its
completion. In later years neither of them thought very well of their
production; but that also is nothing. The author seldom cares very
deeply for his offspring once it is turned over to the public charge. The
fact that the story is still popular, still delights thousands of
readers, when a myriad of novels that have been written since it was
completed have lived their little day and died so utterly that even their
names have passed out of memory, is the best verdict as to its worth.




LXXXIX

PLANNING A NEW HOME

Clemens and his wife bought a lot for the new home that winter, a fine,
sightly piece of land on Farmington Avenue--table-land, sloping down to a
pretty stream that wound through the willows and among the trees. They
were as delighted as children with their new purchase and the prospect of
building. To her sister Mrs. Clemens wrote:

    Mr. Clemens seems to glory in his sense of possession; he goes daily
    into the lot, has had several falls trying to lay off the land by
    sliding around on his feet....

    For three days the ice has covered the trees, and they have been
    glorious. We could do nothing but watch the beauty outside; if you
    looked at the trees as the sun struck them, with your back toward
    the sun, they were covered with jewels. If you looked toward the
    sun it was all crystal whiteness, a perfect fairy-land. Then the
    nights were moonlight, and that was a great beauty, the moon giving
    us the same prismatic effect.

This was the storm of which Mark Twain wrote his matchless description,
given first in his speech on New England weather, and later preserved in
'Following the Equator', in more extended form. In that book he likens
an ice-storm to his impressions derived from reading descriptions of the
Taj Mahal, that wonderful tomb of a fair East Indian queen. It is a
marvelous bit of word-painting--his description of that majestic vision:
"When every bough and twig is strung with ice-beads, frozen dewdrops, and
the whole tree sparkles cold and white, like the Shah of Persia's diamond
plume." It will pay any one to look up that description and read it all,
though it has been said, by the fortunate one or two who heard him first
give it utterance as an impromptu outburst, that in the subsequent
process of writing the bloom of its original magnificence was lost.

The plans for the new house were drawn forthwith by that gentle architect
Edward Potter, whose art to-day may be considered open to criticism, but
not because of any lack of originality. Hartford houses of that period
were mainly of the goods-box form of architecture, perfectly square,
typifying the commercial pursuits of many of their owners. Potter agreed
to get away from this idea, and a radical and even frenzied departure was
the result. Certainly his plans presented beautiful pictures, and all
who saw them were filled with wonder and delight. Architecture has
lavished itself in many florescent forms since then, but we may imagine
that Potter's "English violet" order of design, as he himself designated
it, startled, dazzled, and captivated in a day, when most houses were
mere habitations, built with a view to economy and the largest possible
amount of room.

Workmen were put on the ground without delay, to prepare for the
builders, and work was rapidly pushed along. Then in May the whole
matter was left in the hands of the architect and the carpenters (with
Lawyer Charles E. Perkins to stand between Potter and the violent
builder, who roared at Potter and frightened him when he wanted changes),
while the Clemens household, with Clara Spaulding, a girlhood friend of
Mrs. Clemens, sailed away to England for a half-year holiday.




XC

A LONG ENGLISH HOLIDAY

They sailed on the Batavia, and with them went a young man named
Thompson, a theological student whom Clemens had consented to take as an
amanuensis. There is a pathetic incident connected with this young man,
and it may as well be set down here. Clemens found, a few weeks after
his arrival in England, that so great was the tax upon his time that he
could make no use of Thompson's services. He gave Thompson fifty
dollars, and upon the possibility of the young man's desiring to return
to America, advanced him another fifty dollars, saying that he could
return it some day, and never thought of it again. But the young man
remembered it, and one day, thirty-six years later, after a life of
hardship and struggle, such as the life of a country minister is apt to
be, he wrote and inclosed a money-order, a payment on his debt. That
letter and its inclosure brought only sorrow to Mark Twain. He felt that
it laid upon him the accumulated burden of the weary thirty-six years'
struggle with ill-fortune. He returned the money, of course, and in a
biographical note commented:

    How pale painted heroisms of romance look beside it! Thompson's
    heroism, which is real, which is colossal, which is sublime, and
    which is costly beyond all estimate, is achieved in profound
    obscurity, and its hero walks in rags to the end of his days. I had
    forgotten Thompson completely, but he flashes before me as vividly
    as lightning. I can see him now. It was on the deck of the
    Batavia, in the dock. The ship was casting off, with that hubbub
    and confusion and rushing of sailors, and shouting of orders and
    shrieking of boatswain whistles, which marked the departure
    preparations in those days--an impressive contrast with the solemn
    silence which marks the departure preparations of the giant ships of
    the present day. Mrs. Clemens, Clara Spaulding, little Susy, and
    the nurse-maid were all properly garbed for the occasion. We all
    had on our storm-rig, heavy clothes of somber hue, but new and
    designed and constructed for the purpose, strictly in accordance
    with sea-going etiquette; anything wearable on land being distinctly
    and odiously out of the question.

    Very well. On that deck, and gliding placidly among those honorable
    and properly upholstered groups, appeared Thompson, young, grave,
    long, slim, with an aged fuzzy plug hat towering high on the upper
    end of him and followed by a gray duster, which flowed down, without
    break or wrinkle, to his ankles. He came straight to us, and shook
    hands and compromised us. Everybody could see that we knew him. A
    nigger in heaven could not have created a profounder astonishment.

    However, Thompson didn't know that anything was happening. He had
    no prejudices about clothes. I can still see him as he looked when
    we passed Sandy Hook and the winds of the big ocean smote us.
    Erect, lofty, and grand he stood facing the blast, holding his plug
    on with both hands and his generous duster blowing out behind, level
    with his neck. There were scoffers observing, but he didn't know
    it; he wasn't disturbed.

    In my mind, I see him once afterward, clothed as before, taking me
    down in shorthand. The Shah of Persia had come to England and Dr.
    Hosmer, of the Herald, had sent me to Ostend, to view his Majesty's
    progress across the Channel and write an account of it. I can't
    recall Thompson after that, and I wish his memory had been as poor
    as mine.

They had been a month in London, when the final incident referred to took
place--the arrival of the Shah of Persia--and were comfortably quartered
at the Langham Hotel. To Twichell Clemens wrote:

    We have a luxuriously ample suite of apartments on the third floor,
    our bedroom looking straight up Portland Place, our parlor having a
    noble array of great windows looking out upon both streets (Portland
    Place and the crook that joins it onto Regent Street).

    Nine p.m. full twilight, rich sunset tints lingering in the west.

    I am not going to write anything; rather tell it when I get back.
    I love you and Harmony, and that is all the fresh news I've got
    anyway. And I mean to keep that fresh all the time.

Mrs. Clemens, in a letter to her sister, declared: "It is perfectly
discouraging to try to write you. There is so much to write about that
it makes me feel as if it was no use to begin."

It was a period of continuous honor and entertainment. If Mark Twain had
been a lion on his first visit, he was little less than royalty now. His
rooms at the Langham were like a court. Miss Spaulding (now Mrs. John B.
Stanchfield) remembers that Robert Browning, Turgenieff, Sir John
Millais, Lord Houghton, and Sir Charles Dilke (then at the height of his
fame) were among those that called to pay their respects. In a recent
letter she says:

    I remember a delightful luncheon that Charles Kingsley gave for Mr.
    Clemens; also an evening when Lord Dunraven brought Mr. Home, the
    medium, Lord Dunraven telling many of the remarkable things he had
    seen Mr. Home do. I remember I wanted so much to see him float out
    of a seven or eight story window, and enter another, which Lord
    Dunraven said he had seen him do many times. But Mr. Home had been
    very ill, and said his power had left him. My great regret was that
    we did not see Carlyle, who was too sad and ill for visits.

Among others they met Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland,
and found him so shy that it was almost impossible to get him to say a
word on any subject.

"The shyest full-grown man, except Uncle Remus, I ever met," Clemens once
wrote. "Dr. MacDonald and several other lively talkers were present, and
the talk went briskly on for a couple of hours, but Carroll sat still all
the while, except now and then when he answered a question."

At a dinner given by George Smalley they met Herbert Spencer, and at a
luncheon-party at Lord Houghton's, Sir Arthur Helps, then a world-wide
celebrity.

    Lord Elcho, a large, vigorous man, sat at some distance down the
    table. He was talking earnestly about the town of Godalming. It
    was a deep, flowing, and inarticulate rumble, but I caught the
    Godalming pretty nearly every time it broke free of the rumbling,
    and as all the strength was on the first end of the word, it
    startled me every time, because it sounded so like swearing. In the
    middle of the luncheon Lady Houghton rose, remarked to the guests on
    her right and on her left, in a matter-of-fact way, "Excuse me, I
    have an engagement," and without further ceremony, she went off to
    meet it. This would have been doubtful etiquette in America. Lord
    Houghton told a number of delightful stories. He told them in
    French, and I lost nothing of them but the nubs.

Little Susy and her father thrived on London life, but after a time it
wore on Mrs. Clemens. She delighted in the English cordiality and
culture, but the demands were heavy, the social forms sometimes trying.
Life in London was interesting, and in its way charming, but she did not
enter into it with quite her husband's enthusiasm and heartiness. In the
end they canceled all London engagements and quietly set out for
Scotland. On the way they rested a few days in York, a venerable place
such as Mark Twain always loved to describe. In a letter to Mrs. Langdon
he wrote:

    For the present we shall remain in this queer old walled town, with
    its crooked, narrow lanes, that tell us of their old day that knew
    no wheeled vehicles; its plaster-and-timber dwellings, with upper
    stories far overhanging the street, and thus marking their date,
    say three hundred years ago; the stately city walls, the castellated
    gates, the ivy-grown, foliage-sheltered, most noble and picturesque
    ruin of St. Mary's Abbey, suggesting their date, say five hundred
    years ago, in the heart of Crusading times and the glory of English
    chivalry and romance; the vast Cathedral of York, with its worn
    carvings and quaintly pictured windows, preaching of still remoter
    days; the outlandish names of streets and courts and byways that
    stand as a record and a memorial, all these centuries, of Danish
    dominion here in still earlier times; the hint here and there of
    King Arthur and his knights and their bloody fights with Saxon
    oppressors round about this old city more than thirteen hundred
    years gone by; and, last of all, the melancholy old stone coffins
    and sculptured inscriptions, a venerable arch and a hoary tower of
    stone that still remain and are kissed by the sun and caressed by
    the shadows every day, just as the sun and the shadows have kissed
    and, caressed them every lagging day since the Roman Emperor's
    soldiers placed them here in the times when Jesus the Son of Mary
    walked the streets of Nazareth a youth, with no more name or fame
    than the Yorkshire boy who is loitering down this street this
    moment.

They reached Edinburgh at the end of July and secluded themselves in
Veitch's family hotel in George Street, intending to see no one. But
this plan was not a success; the social stress of London had been too
much for Mrs. Clemens, and she collapsed immediately after their arrival.
Clemens was unacquainted in Edinburgh, but remembered that Dr. John
Brown, who had written Rab and His Friend, lived there. He learned his
address, and that he was still a practising physician. He walked around
to 23 Rutland Street, and made himself known. Dr. Brown came forthwith,
and Mrs. Clemens speedily recovered under his able and inspiring
treatment.

The association did not end there. For nearly a month Dr. Brown was
their daily companion, either at the hotel, or in his own home, or on
protracted drives when he made his round of visits, taking these new
friends along. Dr. John was beloved by everybody in Edinburgh, everybody
in Scotland, for that matter, and his story of Rab had won him a
following throughout Christendom. He was an unpretentious sovereign.
Clemens once wrote of him:

    His was a sweet and winning face, as beautiful a face as I have ever
    known. Reposeful, gentle, benignant; the face of a saint at peace
    with all the world and placidly beaming upon it the sunshine of love
    that filled his heart.

He was the friend of all dogs, and of all people. It has been told of
him that once, when driving, he thrust his head suddenly out of the
carriage window, then resumed his place with a disappointed look.

"Who was it?" asked his companion. "Some one you know?"

"No," he said. "A dog I don't know."

He became the boon companion and playmate of little Susy, then not quite
a year and a half old. He called her Megalopis, a Greek term, suggested
by her eyes; those deep, burning eyes that seemed always so full of
life's sadder philosophies, and impending tragedy. In a collection of
Dr. Brown's letters he refers to this period. In one place he says:

    Had the author of The Innocents Abroad not come to Edinburgh at that
    time we in all human probability might never have met, and what a
    deprivation that would have been to me during the last quarter of a
    century!

And in another place:

    I am attending the wife of Mark Twain. His real name is Clemens.
    She is a quite lovely little woman, modest and clever, and she has a
    girlie eighteen months old, her ludicrous miniature--and such eyes!

Those playmates, the good doctor and Megalopis, romped together through
the hotel rooms with that complete abandon which few grown persons can
assume in their play with children, and not all children can assume in
their play with grown-ups. They played "bear," and the "bear" (which was
a very little one, so little that when it stood up behind the sofa you
could just get a glimpse of yellow hair) would lie in wait for her
victim, and spring out and surprise him and throw him into frenzies of
fear.

Almost every day they made his professional rounds with him. He always
carried a basket of grapes for his patients. His guests brought along
books to read while they waited. When he stopped for a call he would
say:

"Entertain yourselves while I go in and reduce the population."

There was much sight-seeing to do in Edinburgh, and they could not quite
escape social affairs. There were teas and luncheons and dinners with
the Dunfermlines and the Abercrombies, and the MacDonalds, and with
others of those brave clans that no longer slew one another among the
grim northern crags and glens, but were as sociable and entertaining
lords and ladies as ever the southland could produce. They were very
gentle folk indeed, and Mrs. Clemens, in future years, found her heart
going back oftener to Edinburgh than to any other haven of those first
wanderings. August 24th she wrote to her sister:

    We leave Edinburgh to-morrow with sincere regret; we have had such a
    delightful stay here--we do so regret leaving Dr. Brown and his
    sister, thinking that we shall probably never see them again [as
    indeed they never did].

They spent a day or two at Glasgow and sailed for Ireland, where they put
in a fortnight, and early in September were back in England again, at
Chester, that queer old city where; from a tower on the wall, Charles I.
read the story of his doom. Reginald Cholmondeley had invited them to
visit his country seat, beautiful Condover Hall, near Shrewsbury, and in
that lovely retreat they spent some happy, restful days. Then they were
in the whirl of London once more, but escaped for a fortnight to Paris,
sight-seeing and making purchases for the new home.

Mrs. Clemens was quite ready to return to America, by this time.

    I am blue and cross and homesick [she wrote]. I suppose what makes
    me feel the latter is because we are contemplating to stay in London
    another month. There has not one sheet of Mr. Clemens's proof come
    yet, and if he goes home before the book is published here he will
    lose his copyright. And then his friends feel that it will be
    better for him to lecture in London before his book is published,
    not only that it will give him a larger but a more enviable
    reputation. I would not hesitate one moment if it were simply for
    the money that his copyright will bring him, but if his reputation
    will be better for his staying and lecturing, of course he ought to
    stay.... The truth is, I can't bear the thought of postponing going
    home.

It is rather gratifying to find Olivia Clemens human, like that, now and
then. Otherwise, on general testimony, one might well be tempted to
regard her as altogether of another race and kind.




XCI

A LONDON LECTURE

Clemens concluded to hasten the homeward journey, but to lecture a few
nights in London before starting. He would then accompany his little
family home, and return at once to continue the lecture series and
protect his copyright. This plan was carried out. In a communication to
the Standard, October 7th, he said:

    SIR,--In view of the prevailing frenzy concerning the Sandwich
    Islands, and the inflamed desire of the public to acquire
    information concerning them, I have thought it well to tarry yet
    another week in England and deliver a lecture upon this absorbing
    subject. And lest it should be thought unbecoming in me, a
    stranger, to come to the public rescue at such a time, instead of
    leaving to abler hands a matter of so much moment, I desire to
    explain that I do it with the best motives and the most honorable
    intentions. I do it because I am convinced that no one can allay
    this unwholesome excitement as effectually as I can, and to allay
    it, and allay it as quickly as possible, is surely one thing that is
    absolutely necessary at this juncture. I feel and know that I am
    equal to this task, for I can allay any kind of an excitement by
    lecturing upon it. I have saved many communities in this way. I
    have always been able to paralyze the public interest in any topic
    that I chose to take hold of and elucidate with all my strength.

    Hoping that this explanation will show that if I am seeming to
    intrude I am at least doing it from a high impulse, I am, sir, your
    obedient servant,
                         MARK TWAIN.

A day later the following announcement appeared:

                  QUEEN'S CONCERT ROOMS,
                   HANOVER SQUARE.

            MR. GEORGE DOLBY begs to announce that

                    MR. MARK TWAIN

                    WILL DELIVER A
                      LECTURE
                       OF A
                  HUMOROUS CHARACTER,

                     AS ABOVE, ON
           MONDAY EVENING NEXT, OCTOBER 13th, 1873,
            AND REPEAT IT IN THE SAME PLACE, ON
               TUESDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 14th,
               WEDNESDAY "      "  15th,
               THURSDAY "      "  16th,
               FRIDAY  "      "  17th,

                   At Eight o'Clock,
                       AND
             SATURDAY AFTERNOON, OCTOBER 18th,
                   At Three o'Clock.

                      SUBJECT:
         "Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands."

    As Mr. TWAIN has spent several months in these Islands, and is well
    acquainted with his subject, the Lecture may be expected to furnish
    matter of interest.

           STALLS, 5s.     UNRESERVED SEATS, 3s.

The prospect of a lecture from Mark Twain interested the London public.
Those who had not seen him were willing to pay even for that privilege.
The papers were encouraging; Punch sounded a characteristic note:

              WELCOME TO A LECTURER

  "'Tis time we Twain did show ourselves." 'Twas said
    By Caesar, when one Mark had lost his head:
    By Mark, whose head's quite bright, 'tis said again:
    Therefore, "go with me, friends, to bless this Twain."

                                --Punch.

Dolby had managed the Dickens lectures, and he proved his sound business
judgment and experience by taking the largest available hall in London
for Mark Twain.

On the evening of October 13th, in the spacious Queen's Concert Rooms,
Hanover Square, Mark Twain delivered his first public address in England.
The subject was "Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands," the old
lecture with which he had made his first great successes. He was not
introduced. He appeared on the platform in evening dress, assuming the
character of a manager announcing a disappointment.

Mr. Clemens, he said, had fully expected to be present. He paused and
loud murmurs arose from the audience. He lifted his hand and they
subsided. Then he added, "I am happy to say that Mark Twain is present,
and will now give his lecture." Whereupon the audience roared its
approval.

It would be hardly an exaggeration to say that his triumph that week was
a regal one. For five successive nights and a Saturday matinee the
culture and fashion of London thronged to hear him discourse of their
"fellow savages." It was a lecture event wholly without precedent. The
lectures of Artemus Ward,--["Artemus the delicious," as Charles Reade
called him, came to London in June, 1866, and gave his "piece" in
Egyptian Hall. The refined, delicate, intellectual countenance, the
sweet, gave, mouth, from which one might have expected philosophical
lectures retained their seriousness while listeners were convulsed with
laughter. There was something magical about it. Every sentence was a
surprise. He played on his audience as Liszt did on a piano most easily
when most effectively. Who can ever forget his attempt to stop his
Italian pianist--"a count in his own country, but not much account in
this"--who went on playing loudly while he was trying to tell us an
"affecting incident" that occurred near a small clump of trees shown on
his panorama of the Far West. The music stormed on-we could see only
lips and arms pathetically moving till the piano suddenly ceased, and we
heard-it was all we heard "and, she fainted in Reginald's arms." His
tricks have been at tempted in many theaters, but Artemus Ward was
inimitable. And all the time the man was dying. (Moneure D. Conway,
Autobiography.)]--who had quickly become a favorite in London, had
prepared the public for American platform humor, while the daily doings
of this new American product, as reported by the press, had aroused
interest, or curiosity, to a high pitch. On no occasion in his own
country had he won such a complete triumph. The papers for a week
devoted columns of space to appreciation and editorial comment. The
Daily News of October 17th published a column-and-a-half editorial on
American humor, with Mark Twain's public appearance as the general text.
The Times referred to the continued popularity of the lectures:

    They can't be said to have more than whetted the public appetite, if
    we are to take the fact which has been imparted to us, that the
    holding capacity of the Hanover Square Rooms has been inadequate to
    the demand made upon it every night by Twain's lecturing, as a
    criterion. The last lecture of this too brief course was delivered
    yesterday before an audience which crammed to discomfort every part
    of the principal apartment of the Hanover Square Rooms....

At the close of yesterday's lecture Mark Twain was so loudly applauded
that he returned to the stage, and, as soon as the audience gave him a
chance of being heard, he said, with much apparent emotion:

    "Ladies and Gentlemen,--I won't keep you one single moment in this
    suffocating atmosphere. I simply wish to say that this is the last
    lecture I shall have the honor to deliver in London until I return
    from America, four weeks from now. I only wish to say (here Mr.
    Clemens faltered as if too much affected to proceed) I am very
    grateful. I do not wish to appear pathetic, but it is something
    magnificent for a stranger to come to the metropolis of the world
    and be received so handsomely as I have been. I simply thank you."

The Saturday Review devoted a page, and Once a Week, under the head of
"Cracking jokes," gave three pages, to praise of the literary and lecture
methods of the new American humorist. With the promise of speedy return,
he left London, gave the lecture once in Liverpool, and with his party
(October 21st) set sail for home.

In mid-Atlantic he remembered Dr. Brown, and wrote him:

    We have plowed a long way over the sea, and there's twenty-two
    hundred miles of restless water between us now, besides the railway
    stretch. And yet you are so present with us, so close to us, that a
    span and a whisper would bridge the distance.

So it would seem that of all the many memories of that eventful
half-year, that of Dr. Brown was the most present, the most tender.




XCII

FURTHER LONDON LECTURE TRIUMPHS

Orion Clemens records that he met "Sam and Livy" on their arrival from
England, November 2d, and that the president of the Mercantile Library
Association sent up his card "four times," in the hope of getting a
chance to propose a lecture engagement--an incident which impressed Orion
deeply in its evidence of his brother's towering importance. Orion
himself was by this time engaged in various projects. He was inventing a
flying-machine, for one thing, writing a Jules Verne story, reading proof
on a New York daily, and contemplating the lecture field. This great
blaze of international appreciation which had come to the little boy who
used to set type for him in Hannibal, and wash up the forms and cry over
the dirty proof, made him gasp.

They went to see Booth in Hamlet [he says], and Booth sent for Sam to
come behind the scenes, and when Sam proposed to add a part to Hamlet,
the part of a bystander who makes humorous modern comment on the
situations in the play, Booth laughed immoderately.

Proposing a sacrilege like that to Booth! To what heights had this
printer-pilot, miner-brother not attained!--[This idea of introducing a
new character in Hamlet was really attempted later by Mark Twain, with
the connivance of Joe Goodman [of all men], sad to relate. So far as is
known it is the one stain on Goodman's literary record.]

Clemens returned immediately to England--the following Saturday, in fact
--and was back in London lecturing again after barely a month's absence.
He gave the "Roughing It" address, this time under the title of "Roughing
It on the Silver Frontier," and if his audiences were any less
enthusiastic, or his houses less crowded than before, the newspapers of
that day have left no record of it. It was the height of the season now,
and being free to do so, he threw himself into the whirl of it, and for
two months, beyond doubt, was the most talked-of figure in London. The
Athenaeum Club made him a visiting member (an honor considered next to
knighthood); Punch quoted him; societies banqueted him; his apartments,
as before; were besieged by callers. Afternoons one was likely to find
him in "Poets' Corner" of the Langham smoking-room, with a group of
London and American authors--Reade, Collins, Miller, and the others
--frankly rioting in his bold fancies. Charles Warren Stoddard was in
London at the time, and acted as his secretary. Stoddard was a gentle
poet, a delightful fellow, and Clemens was very fond of him. His only
complaint of Stoddard was that he did not laugh enough at his humorous
yarns. Clemens once said:

"Dolby and I used to come in after the lecture, or perhaps after being
out to some dinner, and we liked to sit down and talk it over and tell
yarns, and we expected Stoddard to laugh at them, but Stoddard would lie
there on the couch and snore. Otherwise, as a secretary, he was
perfect."

The great Tichborne trial was in progress then, and the spectacle of an
illiterate impostor trying to establish his claim as the rightful heir to
a great estate was highly diverting to Mark Twain.--[In a letter of this
period he speaks of having attended one of the Claimant's "Evenings."]
--He wanted to preserve the evidence as future literary material, and
Stoddard day after day patiently collected the news reports and neatly
pasted them into scrap-books, where they still rest, a complete record of
that now forgotten farce. The Tichborne trial recalled to Mark Twain the
claimant in the Lampton family, who from time to time wrote him long
letters, urging him to join in the effort to establish his rights to the
earldom of Durham. This American claimant was a distant cousin, who had
"somehow gotten hold of, or had fabricated a full set of documents."

Colonel Henry Watterson, just quoted (also a Lampton connection), adds:

    During the Tichborne trial Mark and I were in London, and one day he
    said to me: "I have investigated this Durham business down at the
    Herald's office. There is nothing to it. The Lamptons passed out
    of the earldom of Durham a hundred years ago. There were never any
    estates; the title lapsed; the present earldom is a new creation,
    not in the same family at all. But I'll tell you what: if you'll
    put up $500, I'll put up $500 more; we'll bring our chap over here
    and set him in as claimant, and, my word for it, Kenealy's fat boy
    won't be a marker to him."

It was a characteristic Mark Twain project, one of the sort he never
earned out in reality, but loved to follow in fancy, and with the pen
sometimes. The "Rightful Earl of Durham" continued to send letters for a
long time after that (some of them still exist), but he did not establish
his claim. No one but Mark Twain ever really got anything out of it.
Like the Tennessee land, it furnished material by and by for a book.
Colonel Watterson goes on to say that Clemens was only joking about
having looked up the matter in the peerage; that he hadn't really looked
it up at all, and that the earldom lies still in the Lampton family.

Another of Clemens's friends in London at this time was Prentice Mulford,
of California. In later years Mulford acquired a wide reputation for his
optimistic and practical psychologies. Through them he lifted himself
out of the slough of despond, and he sought to extend a helping hand to
others. His "White Cross Library" had a wide reading and a wide
influence; perhaps has to this day. But in 1873 Mulford had not found
the tangibility of thought, the secret of strength; he was only finding
it, maybe, in his frank acknowledgment of shortcoming:

    Now, Mark, I am down-very much down at present; you are up-where you
    deserve to be. I can't ask this on the score of any past favors,
    for there have been none. I have not always spoken of you in terms
    of extravagant praise; have sometimes criticized you, which was due,
    I suppose, in part to an envious spirit. I am simply human. Some
    people in the same profession say they entertain no jealousy of
    those more successful. I can't. They are divine; I am not.

It was only that he wished Clemens to speak a word for him to Routledge,
to get him a hearing for his work. He adds:

    I shall be up myself some day, although my line is far apart from
    yours. Whether you can do anything that I ask of you or not, I
    shall be happy then, as I would be now, to do you any just and right
    service.... Perhaps I have mistaken my vocation. Certainly, if I
    was back with my rocker on the Tuolumne, I'd make it rattle livelier
    than ever I did before. I have occasionally thought of London
    Bridge, but the Thames is now so d---d cold and dirty, and besides I
    can swim, and any attempt at drowning would, through the mere
    instinct of self-preservation, only result in my swimming ashore and
    ruining my best clothes; wherefore I should be worse off than ever.

Of course Mark Twain granted the favor Mulford asked, and a great deal
more, no doubt, for that was his way. Mulford came up, as he had
prophesied, but the sea in due time claimed him, though not in the way he
had contemplated. Years after he was one day found drifting off the
shores of Long Island in an open boat, dead.

Clemens made a number of notable dinner speeches during this second
London lecture period. His response to the toast of the "Ladies,"
delivered at the annual dinner of the Scottish Corporation of London, was
the sensational event of the evening.

He was obliged to decline an invitation to the Lord Mayor's dinner,
whereupon his Lordship wrote to urge him to be present at least at the
finale, when the welcome would be "none the less hearty," and bespoke his
attendance for any future dinners.

Clemens lectured steadily at the Hanover Square Rooms during the two
months of his stay in London, and it was only toward the end of this
astonishing engagement that the audience began to show any sign of
diminishing. Early in January he wrote to Twichell:

I am not going to the provinces because I cannot get halls that are large
enough. I always felt cramped in the Hanover Square Rooms, but I find
that everybody here speaks with awe and respect of that prodigious hall
and wonders that I could fill it so long.

I am hoping to be back in twenty days, but I have so much to go home to
and enjoy with a jubilant joy that it hardly seems possible that it can
come to pass in so uncertain a world as this.

In the same letter he speaks of attending an exhibition of Landseer's
paintings at the Royal Academy:

    Ah, they are wonderfully beautiful! There are such rich moonlights
    and dusks in the "Challenge" and the "Combat," and in that long
    flight of birds across a lake in the subdued flush of sunset (or
    sunrise, for no man can ever tell t'other from which in a picture,
    except it has the filmy morning mist breathing itself up from the
    water), and there is such a grave analytical profundity in the face
    of the connoisseurs; and such pathos in the picture of a fawn
    suckling its dead mother on a snowy waste, with only the blood in
    the footprints to hint that she is not asleep. And the way that he
    makes animals' flesh and blood, insomuch that if the room were
    darkened ever so little, and a motionless living animal placed
    beside the painted one, no man could tell which was which.

I interrupted myself here, to drop a line to Shirley Brooks and suggest a
cartoon for Punch. It was this: in one of the Academy saloons (in a
suite where these pictures are) a fine bust of Landseer stands on a
pedestal in the center of the room. I suggested that some of Landseer's
best known animals be represented as having come down out of their frames
in the moonlight and grouped themselves about the bust in mourning
attitudes.

He sailed January 13 (1874.), on the Paythia, and two weeks later was at
home, where all was going well. The Gilded Age had been issued a day or
two before Christmas, and was already in its third edition. By the end
of January 26,000 copies had been sold, a sale that had increased to
40,000 a month later. The new house was progressing, though it was by no
means finished. Mrs. Clemens was in good health. Little Susy was full
of such American activities as to earn the name of "The Modoc." The
promise of the year was bright.




XCIII

THE REAL COLONEL SELLERS-GOLDEN DAYS

There are bound to be vexations, flies in the ointment, as we say. It
was Warner who conferred the name of Eschol Sellers on the chief figure
of the collaborated novel. Warner had known it as the name of an obscure
person, or perhaps he had only heard of it. At all events, it seemed a
good one for the character and had been adopted. But behold, the book
had been issued but a little while when there rose "out of the vasty
deeps" a genuine Eschol Sellers, who was a very respectable person. He
was a stout, prosperous-looking man, gray and about fifty-five years old.
He came into the American Publishing Company offices and asked permission
to look at the book. Mr. Bliss was out at the moment, but presently
arrived. The visitor rose and introduced himself.

"My name is Eschol Sellers," he said. "You have used it in one of your
publications. It has brought upon me a lot of ridicule. My people wish
me to sue you for $10,000 damages."

He had documents to prove his identity, and there was only one thing to
be done; he must be satisfied. Bliss agreed to recall as many of the
offending volumes as possible and change the name on the plates. He
contacted the authors, and the name Beriah was substituted for the
offending Eschol. It turned out that the real Sellers family was a large
one, and that the given name Eschol was not uncommon in its several
branches. This particular Eschol Sellers, curiously enough, was an
inventor and a promoter, though of a much more substantial sort than his
fiction namesake. He was also a painter of considerable merit, a writer
and an antiquarian. He was said to have been a grandson of the famous
painter, Rembrandt Peale.

Clemens vowed that he would not lecture in America that winter. The
irrepressible Redpath besieged him as usual, and at the end of January
Clemens telegraphed him, as he thought, finally. Following it with a
letter of explanation, he added:

"I said to her, 'There isn't money enough in America to hire me to leave
you for one day.'"

But Redpath was a persistent devil. He used arguments and held out
inducements which even Mrs. Clemens thought should not be resisted, and
Clemens yielded from time to time, and gave a lecture here and there
during February. Finally, on the 3d of March (1879.) he telegraphed his
tormentor:

"Why don't you congratulate me? I never expect to stand on a lecture
platform again after Thursday night."

Howells tells delightfully of a visit which he and Aldrich paid to
Hartford just at this period. Aldrich went to visit Clemens and Howells
to visit Charles Dudley Warner, Clemens coming as far as Springfield to
welcome them.

    In the good-fellowship of that cordial neighborhood we had two such
    days as the aging sun no longer shines on in his round. There was
    constant running in and out of friendly houses where the lively
    hosts and guests called one another by their Christian names or
    nicknames, and no such vain ceremony as knocking or ringing at
    doors. Clemens was then building the stately mansion in which he
    satisfied his love of magnificence as if it had been another
    sealskin coat, and he was at the crest of the prosperity which
    enabled him to humor every whim or extravagance.

Howells tells how Clemens dilated on the advantages of subscription sale
over the usual methods of publication, and urged the two Boston authors
to prepare something which canvassers could handle.

"Why, any other means of bringing out a book is privately printing it,"
he declared, and added that his subscription books in Bliss's hands sold
right along, "just like the Bible."

On the way back to Boston Howells and Aldrich planned a subscription book
which would sell straight along, like the Bible. It was to be called
"Twelve Memorable Murders." They had dreamed two or three fortunes by
the time they had reached Boston, but the project ended there.

"We never killed a single soul," Howells said once to the writer of this
memoir.

Clemens was always urging Howells to visit him after that. He offered
all sorts of inducements.

    You will find us the most reasonable people in the world. We had
    thought of precipitating upon you, George Warner and his wife one
    day, Twichell and his jewel of a wife another day, and Charles
    Perkins and wife another. Only those--simply members of our family
    they are. But I'll close the door against them all, which will
    "fix" all of the lot except Twichell, who will no more hesitate to
    climb in the back window than nothing.

    And you shall go to bed when you please, get up when you please,
    talk when you please, read when you please.

A little later he was urging Howells or Aldrich, or both of them; to come
to Hartford to live.

    Mr. Hall, who lives in the house next to Mrs. Stowe's (just where we
    drive in to go to our new house), will sell for $16,000 or $17,000.
    You can do your work just as well here as in Cambridge, can't you?
    Come! Will one of you boys buy that house? Now, say yes.

Certainly those were golden, blessed days, and perhaps, as Howells says,
the sun does not shine on their like any more--not in Hartford, at least,
for the old group that made them no longer assembles there. Hartford
about this time became a sort of shrine for all literary visitors, and
for other notables as well, whether of America or from overseas. It was
the half-way place between Boston and New York, and pilgrims going in
either direction rested there. It is said that travelers arriving in
America, were apt to remember two things they wished to see: Niagara
Falls and Mark Twain. But the Falls had no such recent advertising
advantage as that spectacular success in London. Visitors were apt to
begin in Hartford.

Howells went with considerable frequency after that, or rather with
regularity, twice a year, or oftener, and his coming was always hailed
with great rejoicing. They visited and ate around at one place and
another among that pleasant circle of friends. But they were happiest
afterward together, Clemens smoking continually, "soothing his tense
nerves with a mild hot Scotch," says Howells, "while we both talked, and
talked, and tasked of everything in the heavens and on the earth, and the
waters under the earth. After two days of this talk I would come away
hollow, realizing myself best in the image of one of those locust-shells
which you find sticking to the bark of trees at the end of summer."
Sometimes Clemens told the story of his early life, "the inexhaustible,
the fairy, the Arabian Nights story, which I could never tire of even
when it began to be told over again."




XCIV

BEGINNING "TOM SAWYER"

The Clemens household went to Quarry Farm in April, leaving the new house
once more in the hands of the architect and builders. It was costing a
vast sum of money, and there was a financial stress upon land. Mrs.
Clemens, always prudent, became a little uneasy at times, though without
warrant in those days, for her business statement showed that her
holdings were only a little less than a quarter of a million in her own
right, while her husband's books and lectures had been highly
remunerative, and would be more so. They were justified in living in
ample, even luxurious comfort, and how free from financial worries they
could have lived for the rest of their days!

Clemens, realizing his happiness, wrote Dr. Brown:

Indeed I am thankful for the wifey and the child, and if there is one
individual creature on all this footstool who is more thoroughly and
uniformly and, unceasingly happy than I am I defy the world to produce
him and prove him. In my opinion he don't exist. I was a mighty rough,
coarse, unpromising subject when Livy took charge of me, four years ago,
and I may still be to the rest of the world, but not to her. She has
made a very creditable job of me.

Truly fortune not only smiled, but laughed. Every mail brought great
bundles of letters that sang his praises. Robert Watt, who had
translated his books into Danish, wrote of their wide popularity among
his people. Madame Blanc (Th. Bentzon), who as early as 1872 had
translated The Jumping Frog into French, and published it, with extended
comment on the author and his work, in the 'Revue des deux mondes', was
said to be preparing a review of 'The Gilded Age'. All the world seemed
ready to do him honor.

Of course, one must always pay the price, usually a vexatious one. Bores
stopped him on the street to repeat ancient and witless stories. Invented
anecdotes, some of them exasperating ones, went the rounds of the press.
Impostors in distant localities personated him, or claimed to be near
relatives, and obtained favors, sometimes money, in his name. Trivial
letters, seeking benefactions of every kind, took the savor from his
daily mail. Letters from literary aspirants were so numerous that he
prepared a "form" letter of reply:

DEAR SIR OR MADAM,--Experience has not taught me very much, still it has
taught me that it is not wise to criticize a piece of literature, except
to an enemy of the person who wrote it; then if you praise it that enemy
admires--you for your honest manliness, and if you dispraise it he
admires you for your sound judgment.

                     Yours truly,  S. L. C.

Even Orion, now in Keokuk on a chicken farm, pursued him with manuscripts
and proposals of schemes. Clemens had bought this farm for Orion, who
had counted on large and quick returns, but was planning new enterprises
before the first eggs were hatched. Orion Clemens was as delightful a
character as was ever created in fiction, but he must have been a trial
now and then to Mark Twain. We may gather something of this from a
letter written by the latter to his mother and sister at this period:

    I can't "encourage" Orion. Nobody can do that conscientiously, for
    the reason that before one's letter has time to reach him he is off
    on some new wild-goose chase. Would you encourage in literature a
    man who the older he grows the worse he writes?

    I cannot encourage him to try the ministry, because he would change
    his religion so fast that he would have to keep a traveling agent
    under wages to go ahead of him to engage pulpits and board for him.

    I cannot conscientiously encourage him to do anything but potter
    around his little farm and put in his odd hours contriving new and
    impossible projects at the rate of 365 a year which is his customary
    average. He says he did well in Hannibal! Now there is a man who
    ought to be entirely satisfied with the grandeurs, emoluments, and
    activities of a hen farm.

    If you ask me to pity Orion I can do that. I can do it every day
    and all day long. But one can't "encourage" quicksilver; because
    the instant you put your finger on it, it isn't there. No, I am
    saying too much. He does stick to his literary and legal
    aspirations, and he naturally would elect the very two things which
    he is wholly and preposterously unfitted for. If I ever become
    able, I mean to put Orion on a regular pension without revealing the
    fact that it is a pension.

    He did presently allow the pension, a liberal one, which continued
    until neither Orion Clemens nor his wife had further earthly need of
    it.

Mark Twain for some time had contemplated one of the books that will
longest preserve his memory, 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer'. The success
of 'Roughing It' naturally made him cast about for other autobiographical
material, and he remembered those days along the river-front in Hannibal
--his skylarking with Tom Blankenship, the Bowen boys, John Briggs, and
the rest. He had recognized these things as material--inviting material
it was--and now in the cool luxury of Quarry Farm he set himself to spin
the fabric of youth.

He found summer-time always his best period for literary effort, and on a
hillside just by the old quarry, Mrs. Crane had built for him that spring
a study--a little room of windows, somewhat suggestive of a pilot-house
--overlooking the long sweep of grass and the dreamlike city below.
Vines were planted that in the course of time would cover and embower it;
there was a tiny fireplace for chilly days. To Twichell, of his new
retreat, Clemens wrote:

It is the loveliest study you ever saw. It is octagonal, with a peaked
roof, each face filled with a spacious window, and it sits perched in
complete isolation on the top of an elevation that commands leagues of
valley and city and retreating ranges of distant blue hills. It is a
cozy nest and just room in it for a sofa, table, and three or four
chairs, and when the storms sweep down the remote valley and the
lightning flashes behind the hills beyond, and the rain beats upon the
roof over my head, imagine the luxury of it.

He worked steadily there that summer. He would go up mornings, after
breakfast, remaining until nearly dinner-time, say until five o'clock or
after, for it was not his habit to eat luncheon. Other members of the
family did not venture near the place, and if he was urgently wanted they
blew a horn. Each evening he brought down his day's performance to read
to the assembled family. He felt the need of audience and approval.
Usually he earned the latter, but not always. Once, when for a day he
put aside other matters to record a young undertaker's love-affair, and
brought down the result in the evening, fairly bubbling with the joy of
it, he met with a surprise. The tale was a ghastly burlesque, its humor
of the most disheartening, unsavory sort. No one spoke during the
reading, nobody laughed: The air was thick with disapproval. His voice
lagged and faltered toward the end. When he finished there was heavy
silence. Mrs. Clemens was the only one who could speak:

"Youth, let's walk a little," she said.

The "Undertaker's Love Story" is still among the manuscripts of that
period, but it is unlikely that it will ever see the light of print.
--[This tale bears no relation to "The Undertaker's Story" in Sketches
New and Old.]

The Tom Sawyer tale progressed steadily and satisfactorily. Clemens
wrote Dr. Brown:

    I have been writing fifty pages of manuscript a day, on an average,
    for some time now, on a book (a story), and consequently have been
    so wrapped up in it, and dead to everything else, that I have fallen
    mighty short in letter-writing....

    On hot days I spread the study wide open, anchor my papers down with
    brickbats, and write in the midst of the hurricane, clothed in the
    same thin linen we make shirts of.

He incloses some photographs in this letter.

    The group [he says] represents the vine-clad carriageway in front of
    the farm-house. On the left is Megalopis sitting in the lap of her
    German nurse-maid. I am sitting behind them. Mrs. Crane is in the
    center. Mr. Crane next to her. Then Mrs. Clemens and the new baby.
    Her Irish nurse stands at her back. Then comes the table waitress,
    a young negro girl, born free. Next to her is Auntie Cord (a
    fragment of whose history I have just sent to a magazine). She is
    the cook; was in slavery more than forty years; and the self-
    satisfied wench, the last of the group, is the little baby's
    American nurse-maid. In the middle distance my mother-in-law's
    coachman (up on errand) has taken a position unsolicited to help out
    the picture. No, that is not true. He was waiting there a minute
    or two before the photographer came. In the extreme background,
    under the archway, you glimpse my study.

The "new baby," "Bay," as they came to call her, was another little
daughter, born in June, a happy, healthy addition to the household. In a
letter written to Twichell we get a sweet summer picture of this period,
particularly of little sunny-haired, two-year-old Susy.

    There is nothing selfish about the Modoc. She is fascinated with
    the new baby. The Modoc rips and tears around outdoors most of the
    time, and consequently is as hard as a pineknot and as brown as an
    Indian. She is bosom friend to all the chickens, ducks, turkeys,
    and guinea-hens on the place. Yesterday, as she marched along the
    winding path that leads up the hill through the red-clover beds to
    the summer-house, there was a long procession of these fowls
    stringing contentedly after her, led by a stately rooster, who can
    look over the Modoc's head. The devotion of these vassals has been
    purchased with daily largess of Indian meal, and so the Modoc,
    attended by her body-guard, moves in state wherever she goes.

There were days, mainly Sundays, when he did not work at all; peaceful
days of lying fallow, dreaming in shady places, drowsily watching little
Susy, or reading with Mrs. Clemens. Howells's "Foregone Conclusion" was
running in the Atlantic that year, and they delighted in it. Clemens
wrote the author:

    I should think that this must be the daintiest, truest, most
    admirable workmanship that was ever put on a story. The creatures
    of God do not act out their natures more unerringly than yours do.
    If your genuine stories can die I wonder by what right old Walter
    Scott's artificialities shall continue to live.

At other times he found comfort in the society of Theodore Crane. These
two were always fond of each other, and often read together the books in
which they were mutually interested. They had portable-hammock
arrangements, which they placed side by side on the lawn, and read and
discussed through summer afternoons. The 'Mutineers of the Bounty' was
one of the books they liked best, and there was a story of an Iceland
farmer, a human document, that had an unfading interest. Also there were
certain articles in old numbers of the Atlantic that they read and
reread. 'Pepys' Diary', 'Two Years Before the Mast', and a book on the
Andes were reliable favorites. Mark Twain read not so many books, but
read a few books often. Those named were among the literature he asked
for each year of his return to Quarry Farm. Without them, the farm and
the summer would not be the same.

Then there was 'Lecky's History of European Morals'; there were periods
when they read Lecky avidly and discussed it in original and unorthodox
ways. Mark Twain found an echo of his own philosophies in Lecky. He
made frequent marginal notes along the pages of the world's moral
history--notes not always quotable in the family circle. Mainly,
however, they were short, crisp interjections of assent or disapproval.
In one place Lecky refers to those who have undertaken to prove that all
our morality is a product of experience, holding that a desire to obtain
happiness and to avoid pain is the only possible motive to action; the
reason, and the only reason, why we should perform virtuous actions being
"that on the whole such a course will bring us the greatest amount of
happiness." Clemens has indorsed these philosophies by writing on the
margin, "Sound and true." It was the philosophy which he himself would
always hold (though, apparently, never live by), and in the end would
embody a volume of his own.--[What Is Man? Privately printed in 1906.]
--In another place Lecky, himself speaking, says:

    Fortunately we are all dependent for many of our pleasures on
    others. Co-operation and organization are essential to our
    happiness, and these are impossible without some restraint being
    placed upon our appetites. Laws are made to secure this restraint,
    and being sustained by rewards, and punishments they make it the
    interest of the individual to regard that of the community.

"Correct!" comments Clemens. "He has proceeded from unreasoned
selfishness to reasoned selfishness. All our acts, reasoned and
unreasoned, are selfish." It was a conclusion he logically never
departed from; not the happiest one, it would seem, at first glance, but
one easier to deny than to disprove.

On the back of an old envelope Mark Twain set down his literary
declaration of this period.

"I like history, biography, travels, curious facts and strange
happenings, and science. And I detest novels, poetry, and theology."

But of course the novels of Howells would be excepted; Lecky was not
theology, but the history of it; his taste for poetry would develop
later, though it would never become a fixed quantity, as was his devotion
to history and science. His interest in these amounted to a passion.




XCV

AN "ATLANTIC" STORY AND A PLAY

The reference to "Auntie Cord" in the letter to Dr. Brown brings us to
Mark Twain's first contribution to the Atlantic Monthly. Howells in his
Recollections of his Atlantic editorship, after referring to certain
Western contributors, says:

    Later came Mark Twain, originally of Missouri, but then
    provisionally of Hartford, and now ultimately of the solar system,
    not to say the universe. He came first with "A True Story," one of
    those noble pieces of humanity with which the South has atoned
    chiefly, if not solely, through him for all its despite to the
    negro.

Clemens had long aspired to appear in the Atlantic, but such was his own
rating of his literature that he hardly hoped to qualify for its pages.
Twichell remembers his "mingled astonishment and triumph" when he was
invited to send something to the magazine.

He was obliged to "send something" once or twice before the acceptance of
"A True Story," the narrative of Auntie Cord, and even this acceptance
brought with it the return of a fable which had accompanied it, with the
explanation that a fable like that would disqualify the magazine for
every denominational reader, though Howells hastened to express his own
joy in it, having been particularly touched by the author's reference to
Sisyphus and Atlas as ancestors of the tumble-bug. The "True Story," he
said, with its "realest king of black talk," won him, and a few days
later he wrote again: "This little story delights me more and more. I
wish you had about forty of 'em."

And so, modestly enough, as became him, for the story was of the
simplest, most unpretentious sort, Mark Twain entered into the school of
the elect.

In his letter to Howells, accompanying the MS., the author said:

    I inclose also "A True Story," which has no humor in it. You can
    pay as lightly as you choose for that if you want it, for it is
    rather out of my line. I have not altered the old colored woman's
    story, except to begin it at the beginning, instead of the middle,
    as she did--and traveled both ways.

Howells in his Recollections tells of the business anxiety in the
Atlantic office in the effort to estimate the story's pecuniary value.
Clemens and Harte had raised literary rates enormously; the latter was
reputed to have received as much as five cents a word from affluent
newspapers! But the Atlantic was poor, and when sixty dollars was
finally decided upon for the three pages (about two and a half cents a
word) the rate was regarded as handsome--without precedent in Atlantic
history. Howells adds that as much as forty times this amount was
sometimes offered to Mark Twain in later years. Even in '74 he had
received a much higher rate than that offered by the Atlantic,--but no
acceptance, then, or later, ever made him happier, or seemed more richly
rewarded.

"A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It" was precisely what
it claimed to be.--[Atlantic Monthly for November, 1874; also included in
Sketches New and Old.]--Auntie Cord, the Auntie Rachel of that tale, cook
at Quarry Farm, was a Virginia negress who had been twice sold as a
slave, and was proud of the fact; particularly proud that she had brought
$1,000 on the block. All her children had been sold away from her, but
it was a long time ago, and now at sixty she was fat and seemingly
without care. She had told her story to Mrs. Crane, who had more than
once tried to persuade her to tell it to Clemens; but Auntie Cord was
reluctant. One evening, however, when the family sat on the front
veranda in the moonlight, looking down on the picture city, as was their
habit, Auntie Cord came around to say good night, and Clemens engaged her
in conversation. He led up to her story, and almost before she knew it
she was seated at his feet telling the strange tale in almost the exact
words in which it was set down by him next morning. It gave Mark Twain a
chance to exercise two of his chief gifts--transcription and portrayal.
He was always greater at these things than at invention. Auntie Cord's
story is a little masterpiece.

He wished to do more with Auntie Cord and her associates of the farm, for
they were extraordinarily interesting. Two other negroes on the place,
John Lewis and his wife (we shall hear notably of Lewis later), were not
always on terms of amity with Auntie Cord. They disagreed on religion,
and there were frequent battles in the kitchen. These depressed the
mistress of the house, but they gave only joy to Mark Twain. His
Southern raising had given him an understanding of their humors, their
native emotions which made these riots a spiritual gratification. He
would slip around among the shrubbery and listen to the noise and strife
of battle, and hug himself with delight. Sometimes they resorted to
missiles--stones, tinware--even dressed poultry which Auntie Cord was
preparing for the oven. Lewis was very black, Auntie Cord was a bright
mulatto, Lewis's' wife several shades lighter. Wherever the discussion
began it promptly shaded off toward the color-line and insult. Auntie
Cord was a Methodist; Lewis was a Dunkard. Auntie Cord was ignorant and
dogmatic; Lewis could read and was intelligent. Theology invariably led
to personality, and eventually to epithets, crockery, geology, and
victuals. How the greatest joker of the age did enjoy that summer
warfare!

The fun was not all one-sided. An incident of that summer probably
furnished more enjoyment for the colored members of the household than it
did for Mark Twain. Lewis had some fowls, and among them was a
particularly pestiferous guinea-hen that used to get up at three in the
morning and go around making the kind of a noise that a guinea-hen must
like and is willing to get up early to hear. Mark Twain did not care for
it. He stood it as long as he could one morning, then crept softly from
the house to stop it.

It was a clear, bright night; locating the guinea-hen, he slipped up
stealthily with a stout stick. The bird was pouring out its heart,
tearing the moonlight to tatters. Stealing up close, Clemens made a
vicious swing with his bludgeon, but just then the guinea stepped forward
a little, and he missed. The stroke and his explosion frightened the
fowl, and it started to run. Clemens, with his mind now on the single
purpose of revenge, started after it. Around the trees, along the paths,
up and down the lawn, through gates and across the garden, out over the
fields, they raced, "pursuer and pursued." The guinea nor longer sang,
and Clemens was presently too exhausted to swear. Hour after hour the
silent, deadly hunt continued, both stopping to rest at intervals; then
up again and away. It was like something in a dream. It was nearly
breakfast-time when he dragged himself into the house at last, and the
guinea was resting and panting under a currant-bush. Later in the day
Clemens gave orders to Lewis to "kill and eat that guinea-hen," which
Lewis did. Clemens himself had then never eaten a guinea, but some years
later, in Paris, when the delicious breast of one of those fowls was
served him, he remembered and said:

"And to think, after chasing that creature all night, John Lewis got to
eat him instead of me."

The interest in Tom and Huck, or the inspiration for their adventures,
gave out at last, or was superseded by a more immediate demand. As early
as May, Goodman, in San Francisco, had seen a play announced there,
presenting the character of Colonel Sellers, dramatized by Gilbert S.
Densmore and played by John T. Raymond. Goodman immediately wrote
Clemens; also a letter came from Warner, in Hartford, who had noticed in
San Francisco papers announcements of the play. Of course Clemens would
take action immediately; he telegraphed, enjoining the performance. Then
began a correspondence with the dramatist and actor. This in time
resulted in an amicable arrangement, by which the dramatist agreed to
dispose of his version to Clemens. Clemens did not wait for it to
arrive, but began immediately a version of his own. Just how much or how
little of Densmore's work found its way into the completed play, as
presented by Raymond later, cannot be known now. Howells conveys the
impression that Clemens had no hand in its authorship beyond the
character of Sellers as taken from the book. But in a letter still
extant, which Clemens wrote to Howells at the time, he says:

    I worked a month on my play, and launched it in New York last
    Wednesday. I believe it will go. The newspapers have been
    complimentary. It is simply a setting for one character, Colonel
    Sellers. As a play I guess it will not bear critical assault in
    force.

The Warners are as charming as ever. They go shortly to the devil for a
year--that is, to Egypt.

Raymond, in a letter which he wrote to the Sun, November 3, 1874,
declared that "not one line" of Densmore's dramatization was used,
"except that which was taken bodily from The Gilded Age." During the
newspaper discussion of the matter, Clemens himself prepared a letter for
the Hartford Post. This letter was suppressed, but it still exists. In
it he says:

    I entirely rewrote the play three separate and distinct times. I
    had expected to use little of his [Densmore's] language and but
    little of his plot. I do not think there are now twenty sentences
    of Mr. Densmore's in the play, but I used so much of his plot that I
    wrote and told him that I should pay him about as much more as I had
    already paid him in case the play proved a success. I shall keep my
    word.

This letter, written while the matter was fresh in his mind, is
undoubtedly in accordance with the facts. That Densmore was fully
satisfied may be gathered from an acknowledgment, in which he says: "Your
letter reached me on the ad, with check. In this place permit me to
thank you for the very handsome manner in which you have acted in this
matter."

Warner, meantime, realizing that the play was constructed almost entirely
of the Mark Twain chapters of the book, agreed that his collaborator
should undertake the work and financial responsibilities of the dramatic
venture and reap such rewards as might result. Various stories have been
told of this matter, most of them untrue. There was no bitterness
between the friends, no semblance of an estrangement of any sort. Warner
very generously and promptly admitted that he was not concerned with the
play, its authorship, or its profits, whatever the latter might amount
to. Moreover, Warner was going to Egypt very soon, and his labors and
responsibilities were doubly sufficient as they stood.

Clemens's estimate of the play as a dramatic composition was correct
enough, but the public liked it, and it was a financial success from the
start. He employed a representative to travel with Raymond, to assist in
the management and in the division of spoil. The agent had instructions
to mail a card every day, stating the amount of his share in the profits.
Howells once arrived in Hartford just when this postal tide of fortune
was at its flood:

One hundred and fifty dollars--two hundred dollars--three hundred dollars
were the gay figures which they bore, and which he flaunted in the air,
before he sat down at the table, or rose from it to brandish, and then,
flinging his napkin in the chair, walked up and down to exult in.

Once, in later years, referring to the matter, Howells said "He was never
a man who cared anything about money except as a dream, and he wanted
more and more of it to fill out the spaces of this dream." Which was a
true word. Mark Twain with money was like a child with a heap of bright
pebbles, ready to pile up more and still more, then presently to throw
them all away and begin gathering anew.




XCVI

THE NEW HOME

The Clemenses returned to Hartford to find their new house "ready,"
though still full of workmen, decorators, plumbers, and such other
minions of labor as make life miserable to those with ambitions for new
or improved habitations. The carpenters were still on the lower floor,
but the family moved in and camped about in rooms up-stairs that were
more or less free from the invader. They had stopped in New York ten
days to buy carpets and furnishings, and these began to arrive, with no
particular place to put them; but the owners were excited and happy with
it all, for it was the pleasant season of the year, and all the new
features of the house were fascinating, while the daily progress of the
decorators furnished a fresh surprise when they roamed through the rooms
at evening. Mrs. Clemens wrote home:

    We are perfectly delighted with everything here and do so want you
    all to see it.

Her husband, as he was likely to do, picked up the letter and finished
it:

    Livy appoints me to finish this; but how can a headless man perform
    an intelligent function? I have been bully-ragged all day by the
    builder, by his foreman, by the architect, by the tapestry devil who
    is to upholster the furniture, by the idiot who is putting down the
    carpets, by the scoundrel who is setting up the billiard-table (and
    has left the balls in New York), by the wildcat who is sodding the
    ground and finishing the driveway (after the sun went down), by a
    book agent, whose body is in the back yard and the coroner notified.
    Just think of this thing going on the whole day long, and I a man
    who loathes details with all his heart! But I haven't lost my
    temper, and I've made Livy lie down most of the time; could anybody
    make her lie down all the time?

Warner wrote from Egypt expressing sympathy for their unfurnished state
of affairs, but added, "I would rather fit out three houses and fill them
with furniture than to fit out one 'dahabiyeh'." Warner was at that
moment undertaking his charmingly remembered trip up the Nile.

The new home was not entirely done for a long time. One never knows when
a big house like that--or a little house, for that matters done. But
they were settled at last, with all their beautiful things in place; and
perhaps there have been richer homes, possibly more artistic ones, but
there has never been a more charming home, within or without, than that
one.

So many frequenters have tried to express the charm of that household.
None of them has quite succeeded, for it lay not so much in its
arrangement of rooms or their decorations or their outlook, though these
were all beautiful enough, but rather in the personality, the atmosphere;
and these are elusive things to convey in words. We can only see and
feel and recognize; we cannot translate them. Even Howells, with his
subtle touch, can present only an aspect here and there; an essence, as
it were, from a happy garden, rather than the fullness of its bloom.

As Mark Twain was unlike any other man that ever lived, so his house was
unlike any other house ever built. People asked him why he built the
kitchen toward the street, and he said:

"So the servants can see the circus go by without running out into the
front yard."

But this was probably an after-thought. The kitchen end of the house
extended toward Farmington Avenue, but it was by no means unbeautiful. It
was a pleasing detail of the general scheme. The main entrance faced at
right angles with the street and opened to a spacious hall. In turn, the
hall opened to a parlor, where there was a grand piano, and to the
dining-room and library, and the library opened to a little conservatory,
semicircular in form, of a design invented by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Says
Howells:

    The plants were set in the ground, and the flowering vines climbed
    up the sides and overhung the roof above the silent spray of the
    fountain companied by Callas and other waterloving lilies. There,
    while we breakfasted, Patrick came in from the barn and sprinkled
    the pretty bower, which poured out its responsive perfume in the
    delicate accents of its varied blossoms.

In the library was an old carved mantel which Clemens and his wife had
bought in Scotland, salvage from a dismantled castle, and across the top
of the fireplace a plate of brass with the motto, "The ornament of a
house is the friends that frequent it," surely never more appropriately
inscribed.

There was the mahogany room, a large bedroom on the ground floor, and
upstairs were other spacious bedrooms and many baths, while everywhere
were Oriental rugs and draperies, and statuary and paintings. There was
a fireplace under a window, after the English pattern, so that in
winter-time one could at the same moment watch the blaze and the falling
snow. The library windows looked out over the valley with the little
stream in it, and through and across the tree-tops. At the top of the
house was what became Clemens's favorite retreat, the billiard-room, and
here and there were unexpected little balconies, which one could step out
upon for the view.

Below was a wide, covered veranda, the "ombra," as they called it,
secluded from the public eye--a favorite family gathering-place on
pleasant days.

But a house might easily have all these things without being more than
usually attractive, and a house with a great deal less might have been as
full of charm; only it seemed just the proper setting for that particular
household, and undoubtedly it acquired the personality of its occupants.

Howells assures us that there never was another home like it, and we may
accept his statement. It was unique. It was the home of one of the most
unusual and unaccountable personalities in the world, yet was perfectly
and serenely ordered. Mark Twain was not responsible for this blissful
condition. He was its beacon-light; it was around Mrs. Clemens that its
affairs steadily revolved.

If in the four years and more of marriage Clemens had made advancement in
culture and capabilities, Olivia Clemens also had become something more
than the half-timid, inexperienced girl he had first known. In a way her
education had been no less notable than his. She had worked and studied,
and her half-year of travel and entertainment abroad had given her
opportunity for acquiring knowledge and confidence. Her vision of life
had vastly enlarged; her intellect had flowered; her grasp of
practicalities had become firm and sure.

In spite of her delicate physical structure, her continued uncertainty of
health, she capably undertook the management of their large new house,
and supervised its economies. Any one of her undertakings was sufficient
for one woman, but she compassed them all. No children had more careful
direction than hers. No husband had more devoted attendance and
companionship. No household was ever directed with a sweeter and gentler
grace, or with greater perfection of detail. When the great ones of the
world came to visit America's most picturesque literary figure she gave
welcome to them all, and filled her place at his side with such sweet and
capable dignity that those who came to pay their duties to him often
returned to pay even greater devotion to his companion. Says Howells:

    She was, in a way, the loveliest person I have ever seen--the
    gentlest, the kindest, without a touch of weakness; she united
    wonderful tact with wonderful truth; and Clemens not only accepted
    her rule implicitly, but he rejoiced, he gloried in it.

And once, in an interview with the writer of these chapters, Howells
declared: "She was not only a beautiful soul, but a woman of singular
intellectual power. I never knew any one quite like her." Then he
added: "Words cannot express Mrs. Clemens--her fineness, her delicate,
her wonderful tact with a man who was in some respects, and wished to be,
the most outrageous creature that ever breathed."

Howells meant a good many things by that, no doubt: Clemens's violent
methods, for one thing, his sudden, savage impulses, which sometimes
worked injustice and hardship for others, though he was first to discover
the wrong and to repair it only too fully. Then, too, Howells may have
meant his boyish teasing tendency to disturb Mrs. Clemens's exquisite
sense of decorum.

Once I remember seeing him come into his drawing-room at Hartford in a
pair of white cowskin slippers with the hair out, and do a crippled
colored uncle, to the joy of all beholders. I must not say all, for I
remember also the dismay of Mrs. Clemens, and her low, despairing cry of
"Oh, Youth!"

He was continually doing such things as the "crippled colored uncle,";
partly for the very joy of the performance, but partly, too, to disturb
her serenity, to incur her reproof, to shiver her a little--"shock" would
be too strong a word. And he liked to fancy her in a spirit and attitude
of belligerence, to present that fancy to those who knew the measure of
her gentle nature. Writing to Mrs. Howells of a picture of herself in a
group, he said:

    You look exactly as Mrs. Clemens does after she has said: "Indeed, I
    do not wonder that you can frame no reply; for you know only too
    well that your conduct admits of no excuse, palliation, or argument
    --none!"

Clemens would pretend to a visitor that she had been violently indignant
over some offense of his; perhaps he would say:

"Well I contradicted her just now, and the crockery will begin to fly
pretty soon."

She could never quite get used to this pleasantry, and a faint glow would
steal over her face. He liked to produce that glow. Yet always his
manner toward her was tenderness itself. He regarded her as some dainty
bit of porcelain, and it was said that he was always following her about
with a chair. Their union has been regarded as ideal. That is
Twichell's opinion and Howells's. The latter sums up:

    Marriages are what the parties to them alone really know them to be,
    but from the outside I should say that this marriage was one of the
    most perfect.




XCVII

THE WALK TO BOSTON

The new home became more beautiful to them as things found their places,
as the year deepened; and the wonder of autumn foliage lit up their
landscape. Sitting on one of the little upper balconies Mrs. Clemens
wrote:

    The atmosphere is very hazy, and it makes the autumn tints even more
    soft and beautiful than usual. Mr. Twichell came for Mr. Clemens to
    go walking with him; they returned at dinner-time, heavily laden
    with autumn leaves.

And as usual Clemens, finding the letter unfinished, took up the story.

    Twichell came up here with me to luncheon after services, and I went
    back home with him and took Susy along in her little carriage. We
    have just got home again, middle of afternoon, and Livy has gone to
    rest and left the west balcony to me. There is a shining and most
    marvelous miracle of cloud-effects mirrored in the brook; a picture
    which began with perfection, and has momently surpassed it ever
    since, until at last it is almost unendurably beautiful....

    There is a cloud-picture in the stream now whose hues are as
    manifold as those in an opal and as delicate as the tintings of a
    sea-shell. But now a muskrat is swimming through it and
    obliterating it with the turmoil of wavelets he casts abroad from
    his shoulders.

    The customary Sunday assemblage of strangers is gathered together in
    the grounds discussing the house.

Twichell and Clemens took a good many walks these days; long walks, for
Twichell was an athlete and Clemens had not then outgrown the Nevada
habit of pedestrian wandering. Talcott's Tower, a wooden structure about
five miles from Hartford, was one of their favorite objective points; and
often they walked out and back, talking so continuously, and so absorbed
in the themes of their discussions, that time and distance slipped away
almost unnoticed. How many things they talked of in those long walks!
They discussed philosophies and religions and creeds, and all the range
of human possibility and shortcoming, and all the phases of literature
and history and politics. Unorthodox discussions they were,
illuminating, marvelously enchanting, and vanished now forever. Sometimes
they took the train as far as Bloomfield, a little station on the way,
and walked the rest of the distance, or they took the train from
Bloomfield home. It seems a strange association, perhaps, the fellowship
of that violent dissenter with that fervent soul dedicated to church and
creed, but the root of their friendship lay in the frankness with which
each man delivered his dogmas and respected those of his companion.

It was during one of their walks to the tower that they planned a far
more extraordinary undertaking--nothing less, in fact, than a walk from
Hartford to Boston. This was early in November. They did not delay the
matter, for the weather was getting too uncertain.

Clemens wrote Redpath:

DEAR REDPATH,--Rev. J. H. Twichell and I expect to start at 8 o'clock
Thursday morning to walk to Boston in twenty four hours--or more. We
shall telegraph Young's Hotel for rooms Saturday night, in order to allow
for a low average of pedestrianism.

It was half past eight on Thursday morning, November 12, 1874, that they
left Twichell's house in a carriage, drove to the East Hartford bridge,
and there took to the road, Twichell carrying a little bag and Clemens a
basket of lunch.

The papers had got hold of it by this time, and were watching the result.
They did well enough that first day, following the old Boston stage road,
arriving at Westford about seven o'clock in the evening, twenty-eight
miles from the starting-point. There was no real hotel at Westford, only
a sort of tavern, but it afforded the luxury of rest. "Also," says
Twichell, in a memoranda of the trip, "a sublimely profane hostler whom
you couldn't jostle with any sort of mild remark without bringing down
upon yourself a perfect avalanche of oaths."

This was a joy to Clemens, who sat behind the stove, rubbing his lame
knees and fairly reveling in Twichell's discomfiture in his efforts to
divert the hostler's blasphemy. There was also a mellow inebriate there
who recommended kerosene for Clemens's lameness, and offered as testimony
the fact that he himself had frequently used it for stiffness in his
joints after lying out all night in cold weather, drunk: altogether it
was a notable evening.

Westford was about as far as they continued the journey afoot. Clemens
was exceedingly lame next morning, and had had a rather bad night; but he
swore and limped along six miles farther, to North Ashford, then gave it
up. They drove from North Ashford to the railway, where Clemens
telegraphed Redpath and Howells of their approach. To Redpath:

    We have made thirty-five miles in less than five days. This
    demonstrates that the thing can be done. Shall now finish by rail.
    Did you have any bets on us?

To Howells:

    Arrive by rail at seven o'clock, the first of a series of grand
    annual pedestrian tours from Hartford to Boston to be performed by
    us. The next will take place next year.

Redpath read his despatch to a lecture audience, with effect. Howells
made immediate preparation for receiving two way-worn, hungry men. He
telegraphed to Young's Hotel: "You and Twichell come right up to 37
Concord Avenue, Cambridge, near observatory. Party waiting for you."

They got to Howells's about nine o'clock, and the refreshments were
waiting. Miss Longfellow was there, Rose Hawthorne, John Fiske, Larkin
G. Mead, the sculptor, and others of their kind. Howells tells in his
book how Clemens, with Twichell, "suddenly stormed in," and immediately
began to eat and drink:

    I can see him now as he stood up in the midst of our friends, with
    his head thrown back, and in his hand a dish of those escalloped
    oysters without which no party in Cambridge was really a party,
    exulting in the tale of his adventure, which had abounded in the
    most original characters and amusing incidents at every mile of
    their progress.

Clemens gave a dinner, next night, to Howells, Aldrich, Osgood, and the
rest. The papers were full of jokes concerning the Boston expedition;
some even had illustrations, and it was all amusing enough at the time.

Next morning, sitting in the writing-room of Young's Hotel, he wrote a
curious letter to Mrs. Clemens, though intended as much for Howells and
Aldrich as for her. It was dated sixty-one years ahead, and was a sort
of Looking Backwards, though that notable book had not yet been written.
It presupposed a monarchy in which the name of Boston has been changed to
"Limerick," and Hartford to "Dublin." In it, Twichell has become the
"Archbishop of Dublin," Howells "Duke of Cambridge," Aldrich "Marquis of
Ponkapog," Clemens the "Earl of Hartford." It was too whimsical and
delightful a fancy to be forgotten.--[This remarkable and amusing
document will be found under Appendix M, at the end of last volume.]

A long time afterward, thirty-four year, he came across this letter. He
said:

"It seems curious now that I should have been dreaming dreams of a future
monarchy and never suspect that the monarchy was already present and the
Republic a thing of the past."

What he meant, was the political succession that had fostered those
commercial trusts which, in turn, had established party dominion.

To Howells, on his return, Clemens wrote his acknowledgments, and added:

    Mrs. Clemens gets upon the verge of swearing, and goes tearing
    around in an unseemly fury when I enlarge upon the delightful time
    we had in Boston, and she not there to have her share. I have tried
    hard to reproduce Mrs. Howells to her, and have probably not made a
    shining success of it.




XCVIII

"OLD TIMES ON THE MISSISSIPPI"

Howells had been urging Clemens to do something more for the Atlantic,
specifically something for the January number. Clemens cudgeled his
brains, but finally declared he must give it up:

    Mrs. Clemens has diligently persecuted me day by day with urgings to
    go to work and do that something, but it's no use. I find I can't.
    We are in such a state of worry and endless confusion that my head
    won't go.

Two hours later he sent another hasty line:

    I take back the remark that I can't write for the January number,
    for Twichell and I have had a long walk in the woods, and I got to
    telling him about old Mississippi days of steam-boating glory and
    grandeur as I saw them (during four years) from the pilot-house. He
    said, "What a virgin subject to hurl into a magazine!" I hadn't
    thought of that before. Would you like a series of papers to run
    through three months or six or nine--or about four months, say?

Howells welcomed this offer as an echo of his own thought. He had come
from a piloting family himself, and knew the interest that Mark Twain
could put into such a series.

Acting promptly under the new inspiration, Clemens forthwith sent the
first chapter of that monumental, that absolutely unique, series of
papers on Mississippi River life, which to-day constitutes one of his
chief claims to immortality.

His first number was in the nature of an experiment. Perhaps, after all,
the idea would not suit the Atlantic readers.

"Cut it, scarify it, reject it, handle it with entire freedom," he wrote,
and awaited the result.

The "result" was that Howells expressed his delight:

    The piece about the Mississippi is capital. It almost made the
    water in our ice-pitcher muddy as I read it. I don't think I shall
    meddle much with it, even in the way of suggestion. The sketch of
    the low-lived little town was so good that I could have wished there
    was more of it. I want the sketches, if you can make them, every
    month.

Mark Twain was now really interested in this new literary venture. He
was fairly saturated with memories. He was writing on the theme that lay
nearest to his heart. Within ten days he reported that he had finished
three of the papers, and had begun the fourth.

And yet I have spoken of nothing but piloting as a science so far, and I
doubt if I ever get beyond that portion of my subject. And I don't care
to. Any Muggins can write about old days on the Mississippi of five
hundred different kinds, but I am the only man alive that can scribble
about the piloting of that day, and no man has ever tried to scribble
about it yet. Its newness pleases me all the time, and it is about the
only new subject I know of.

He became so enthusiastic presently that he wanted to take Howells with
him on a trip down the Mississippi, with their wives for company, to go
over the old ground again and obtain added material enough for a book.
Howells was willing enough--agreed to go, in fact--but found it hard to
get away. He began to temporize and finally backed out. Clemens tried
to inveigle Osgood into the trip, but without success; also John Hay, but
Hay had a new baby at his house just then--"three days old, and with a
voice beyond price," he said, offering it as an excuse for
non-acceptance. So the plan for revisiting the river and the conclusion
of the book were held in abeyance for nearly seven years.

Those early piloting chapters, as they appeared in the Atlantic,
constituted Mark Twain's best literary exhibit up to that time. In some
respects they are his best literature of any time. As pictures of an
intensely interesting phase of life, they are so convincing, so real, and
at the same time of such extraordinary charm and interest, that if the
English language should survive a thousand years, or ten times as long,
they would be as fresh and vivid at the end of that period as the day
they were penned. In them the atmosphere of, the river and its
environment--its pictures, its thousand aspects of life--are reproduced
with what is no less than literary necromancy. Not only does he make you
smell the river you can fairly hear it breathe. On the appearance of the
first number John Hay wrote:

"It is perfect; no more nor less. I don't see how you do it," and added,
"you know what my opinion is of time not spent with you."

Howells wrote:

    You are doing the science of piloting splendidly. Every word
    interesting, and don't you drop the series till you've got every bit
    of anecdote and reminiscence into it.

He let Clemens write the articles to suit himself. Once he said:

    If I might put in my jaw at this point I should say, stick to actual
    fact and character in the thing and give things in detail. All that
    belongs to the old river life is novel, and is now mostly
    historical. Don't write at any supposed Atlantic audience, but yarn
    it off as if into my sympathetic ear.

Clemens replied that he had no dread of the Atlantic audience; he
declared it was the only audience that did not require a humorist to
"paint himself striped and stand on his head to amuse it."

The "Old Times" papers ran through seven numbers of the Atlantic. They
were reprinted everywhere by the newspapers, who in that day had little
respect for magazine copyrights, and were promptly pirated in book form
in Canada. They added vastly to Mark Twain's literary capital, though
Howells informs us that the Atlantic circulation did not thrive
proportionately, for the reason that the newspapers gave the articles to
their readers from advanced sheets of the magazine, even before the
latter could be placed on sale. It so happened that in the January
Atlantic, which contained the first of the Mississippi papers, there
appeared Robert Dale Owen's article on "Spiritualism," which brought such
humility both to author and publisher because of the exposure of the
medium Katie King, which came along while the magazine was in press.
Clemens has written this marginal note on the opening page of the copy at
Quarry Farm:

While this number of the Atlantic was being printed the Katie King
manifestations were discovered to be the cheapest, wretchedest shams and
frauds, and were exposed in the newspapers. The awful humiliation of it
unseated Robert Dale Owen's reason, and he died in the madhouse.




XCIX

A TYPEWRITER, AND A JOKE ON ALDRICH

It was during the trip to Boston with Twichell that Mark Twain saw for
the first time what was then--a brand-new invention, a typewriter; or it
may have been during a subsequent visit, a week or two later. At all
events, he had the machine and was practising on it December 9, 1874, for
he wrote two letters on it that day, one to Howells and the other to
Orion Clemens. In the latter he says:

    I am trying to get the hang of this new-fangled writing-machine, but
    am not making a shining success of it. However, this is the first
    attempt I ever have made, and yet I perceive that I shall soon
    easily acquire a fine facility in its use. I saw the thing in
    Boston the other day and was greatly taken with it.

He goes on to explain the new wonder, and on the whole his first attempt
is a very creditable performance. With his usual enthusiasm over an
innovation, he believes it is going to be a great help to him, and
proclaims its advantages.

This is the letter to Howells, with the errors preserved:

    You needn't answer this; I am only practicing to get three; anothe
    slip-up there; only practici?ng ti get the hang of the thing. I
    notice I miss fire & get in a good many unnecessary letters &
    punctuation marks. I am simply using you for a target to bang at.
    Blame my cats, but this thing requires genius in order to work it
    just right.

In an article written long after he tells how he was with Nasby when he
first saw the machine in Boston through a window, and how they went in to
see it perform. In the same article he states that he was the first
person in the world to apply the type-machine to literature, and that he
thinks the story of Tom Sawyer was the first type-copied manuscript.
--[Tom Sawyer was not then complete, and had been laid aside. The first
type-copied manuscript was probably early chapters of the Mississippi
story, two discarded typewritten pages of which still exist.]

The new enthusiasm ran its course and died. Three months later, when the
Remington makers wrote him for a recommendation of the machine, he
replied that he had entirely stopped using it. The typewriter was not
perfect in those days, and the keys did not always respond readily. He
declared it was ruining his morals--that it made him "want to swear." He
offered it to Howells because, he said, Howells had no morals anyway.
Howells hesitated, so Clemens traded the machine to Bliss for a
side-saddle. But perhaps Bliss also became afraid of its influence, for
in due time he brought it back. Howells, again tempted, hesitated, and
this time was lost. What eventually became of the machine is not
history.

One of those, happy Atlantic dinners which Howells tells of came about
the end of that year. It was at the Parker House, and Emerson was there;
and Aldrich, and the rest of that group.

"Don't you dare to refuse the invitation," said Howells, and naturally
Clemens didn't, and wrote back:

    I want you to ask Mrs. Howells to let you stay all night at the
    Parker House and tell lies and have an improving time, and take
    breakfast with me in the morning. I will have a good room for you
    and a fire. Can't you tell her it always makes you sick to go home
    late at night or something like that? That sort of thing arouses
    Mrs. Clemens's sympathies easily.

Two memories of that old dinner remain to-day. Aldrich and Howells were
not satisfied with the kind of neckties that Mark Twain wore (the
old-fashioned black "string" tie, a Western survival), so they made him a
present of two cravats when he set out on his return for Hartford. Next
day he wrote:

    You and Aldrich have made one woman deeply and sincerely grateful
    --Mrs. Clemens. For months--I may even say years--she has shown an
    unaccountable animosity toward my necktie, even getting up in the
    night to take it with the tongs and blackguard it, sometimes also
    getting so far as to threaten it.

    When I said you and Aldrich had given me two new neckties, and that
    they were in a paper in my overcoat pocket, she was in a fever of
    happiness until she found I was going to frame them; then all the
    venom in her nature gathered itself together; insomuch that I, being
    near to a door, went without, perceiving danger.

It is recorded that eventually he wore the neckties, and returned no more
to the earlier mode.

Another memory of that dinner is linked to a demand that Aldrich made of
Clemens that night, for his photograph. Clemens, returning to Hartford,
put up fifty-two different specimens in as many envelopes, with the idea
of sending one a week for a year. Then he concluded that this was too
slow a process, and for a week sent one every morning to "His Grace of
Ponkapog."

Aldrich stood it for a few days, then protested. "The police," he said,
"are in the habit of swooping down upon a publication of that sort."

On New-Year's no less than twenty pictures came at once--photographs and
prints of Mark Twain, his house, his family, his various belongings.
Aldrich sent a warning then that the perpetrator of this outrage was
known to the police as Mark Twain, alias "The Jumping Frog," a well-known
California desperado, who would be speedily arrested and brought to
Ponkapog to face his victim. This letter was signed "T. Bayleigh, Chief
of Police," and on the outside of the envelope there was a statement that
it would be useless for that person to send any more mail-matter, as the
post-office had been blown up. The jolly farce closed there. It was the
sort of thing that both men enjoyed.

Aldrich was writing a story at this time which contained some Western
mining incident and environment. He sent the manuscript to Clemens for
"expert" consideration and advice. Clemens wrote him at great length and
in careful detail. He was fond of Aldrich, regarding him as one of the
most brilliant of men. Once, to Robert Louis Stevenson, he said:

    "Aldrich has never had his peer for prompt and pithy and witty and
    humorous sayings. None has equaled him, certainly none has
    surpassed him, in the felicity of phrasing with which he clothed
    these children of his fancy. Aldrich is always brilliant; he can't
    help it; he is a fire-opal set round with rose diamonds; when he is
    not speaking you know that his dainty fancies are twinkling and
    glimmering around in him; when he speaks the diamonds flash. Yes,
    he is always brilliant, he will always be brilliant; he will be
    brilliant in hell-you will see."

Stevenson, smiling a chuckly smile, said, "I hope not."

"Well, you will, and he will dim even those ruddy fires and look like a
transfigured Adonis backed against a pink sunset."--[North American
Review, September, 1906.]




C

RAYMOND, MENTAL TELEGRAPHY, ETC.

The Sellers play was given in Hartford, in January (1875), to as many
people as could crowd into the Opera House. Raymond had reached the
perfection of his art by that time, and the townsmen of Mark Twain saw
the play and the actor at their best. Kate Field played the part of
Laura Hawkins, and there was a Hartford girl in the company; also a
Hartford young man, who would one day be about as well known to playgoers
as any playwright or actor that America has produced. His name was
William Gillette, and it was largely due to Mark Twain that the author of
Secret Service and of the dramatic "Sherlock Holmes" got a fair public
start. Clemens and his wife loaned Gillette the three thousand dollars
which tided him through his period of dramatic education. Their faith in
his ability was justified.

Hartford would naturally be enthusiastic on a first "Sellers-Raymond"
night. At the end of the fourth act there was an urgent demand for the
author of the play, who was supposed to be present. He was not there in
person, but had sent a letter, which Raymond read:

MY DEAR RAYMOND,--I am aware that you are going to be welcomed to our
town by great audiences on both nights of your stay there, and I beg to
add my hearty welcome also, through this note. I cannot come to the
theater on either evening, Raymond, because there is something so
touching about your acting that I can't stand it.

(I do not mention a couple of colds in my head, because I hardly mind
them as much as I would the erysipelas, but between you and me I would
prefer it if they were rights and lefts.)

And then there is another thing. I have always taken a pride in earning
my living in outside places and spending it in Hartford; I have said that
no good citizen would live on his own people, but go forth and make it
sultry for other communities and fetch home the result; and now at this
late day I find myself in the crushed and bleeding position of fattening
myself upon the spoils of my brethren! Can I support such grief as this?
(This is literary emotion, you understand. Take the money at the door
just the same.)

Once more I welcome you to Hartford, Raymond, but as for me let me stay
at home and blush.

                         Yours truly,  MARK.

The play was equally successful wherever it went. It made what in that
day was regarded as a fortune. One hundred thousand dollars is hardly
too large an estimate of the amount divided between author and actor.
Raymond was a great actor in that part, as he interpreted it, though he
did not interpret it fully, or always in its best way. The finer side,
the subtle, tender side of Colonel Sellers, he was likely to overlook.
Yet, with a natural human self-estimate, Raymond believed he had created
a much greater part than Mark Twain had written. Doubtless from the
point of view of a number of people this was so, though the idea, was
naturally obnoxious to Clemens. In course of time their personal
relations ceased.

Clemens that winter gave another benefit for Father Hawley. In reply to
an invitation to appear in behalf of the poor, he wrote that he had quit
the lecture field, and would not return to the platform unless driven
there by lack of bread. But he added:

By the spirit of that remark I am debarred from delivering this proposed
lecture, and so I fall back upon the letter of it, and emerge upon the
platform for this last and final time because I am confronted by a lack
of bread-among Father Hawley's flock.

He made an introductory speech at an old-fashioned spelling-bee, given at
the Asylum Hill Church; a breezy, charming talk of which the following is
a sample:

    I don't see any use in spelling a word right--and never did. I mean
    I don't see any use in having a uniform and arbitrary way of
    spelling words. We might as well make all clothes alike and cook
    all dishes alike. Sameness is tiresome; variety is pleasing. I
    have a correspondent whose letters are always a refreshment to me;
    there is such a breezy, unfettered originality about his
    orthography. He always spells "kow" with a large "K." Now that is
    just as good as to spell it with a small one. It is better. It
    gives the imagination a broader field, a wider scope. It suggests
    to the mind a grand, vague, impressive new kind of a cow.

    He took part in the contest, and in spite of his early reputation,
    was spelled down on the word "chaldron," which he spelled
    "cauldron," as he had been taught, while the dictionary used as
    authority gave that form as second choice.

Another time that winter, Clemens read before the Monday Evening Club a
paper on "Universal Suffrage," which is still remembered by the surviving
members of that time. A paragraph or two will convey its purport:

    Our marvelous latter-day statesmanship has invented universal
    suffrage. That is the finest feather in our cap. All that we
    require of a voter is that he shall be forked, wear pantaloons
    instead of petticoats, and bear a more or less humorous resemblance
    to the reported image of God. He need not know anything whatever;
    he may be wholly useless and a cumberer of the earth; he may even be
    known to be a consummate scoundrel. No matter. While he can steer
    clear of the penitentiary his vote is as weighty as the vote of a
    president, a bishop, a college professor, a merchant prince. We
    brag of our universal, unrestricted suffrage; but we are shams after
    all, for we restrict when we come to the women.

The Monday Evening Club was an organization which included the best minds
of Hartford. Dr. Horace Bushnell, Prof. Calvin E. Stowe, and J. Hammond
Trumbull founded it back in the sixties, and it included such men as Rev.
Dr. Parker, Rev. Dr. Burton, Charles H. Clark, of the Courant, Warner,
and Twichell, with others of their kind. Clemens had been elected after
his first sojourn in England (February, 1873), and had then read a paper
on the "License of the Press." The club met alternate Mondays, from
October to May. There was one paper for each evening, and, after the
usual fashion of such clubs, the reading was followed by discussion.
Members of that time agree that Mark Twain's association with the club
had a tendency to give it a life, or at least an exhilaration, which it
had not previously known. His papers were serious in their purpose he
always preferred to be serious--but they evidenced the magic gift which
made whatever he touched turn to literary jewelry.

Psychic theories and phenomena always attracted Mark Twain. In
thought-transference, especially, he had a frank interest--an interest
awakened and kept alive by certain phenomena--psychic manifestations we
call them now. In his association with Mrs. Clemens it not infrequently
happened that one spoke the other's thought, or perhaps a
long-procrastinated letter to a friend would bring an answer as quickly
as mailed; but these are things familiar to us all. A more startling
example of thought-communication developed at the time of which we are
writing, an example which raised to a fever-point whatever interest he
may have had in the subject before. (He was always having these vehement
interests--rages we may call them, for it would be inadequate to speak of
them as fads, inasmuch as they tended in the direction of human
enlightenment, or progress, or reform.)

Clemens one morning was lying in bed when, as he says, "suddenly a red-hot
new idea came whistling down into my camp." The idea was that the time
was ripe for a book that would tell the story of the Comstock-of the
Nevada silver mines. It seemed to him that the person best qualified for
the work was his old friend William Wright--Dan de Quille. He had not
heard from Dan, or of him, for a long time, but decided to write and urge
him to take up the idea. He prepared the letter, going fully into the
details of his plan, as was natural for him to do, then laid it aside
until he could see Bliss and secure his approval of the scheme from a
publishing standpoint. Just a week later, it was the 9th of March, a
letter came--a thick letter bearing a Nevada postmark, and addressed in a
handwriting which he presently recognized as De Quille's. To a visitor
who was present he said:

"Now I will do a miracle. I will tell you everything this letter
contains--date, signature, and all without breaking the seal."

He stated what he believed was in the letter. Then he opened it and
showed that he had correctly given its contents, which were the same in
all essential details as those of his own letter, not yet mailed.

In an article on "Mental Telegraphy" (he invented the name) he relates
this instance, with others, and in 'Following the Equator' and elsewhere
he records other such happenings. It was one of the "mysteries" in which
he never lost interest, though his concern in it in time became a passive
one.

The result of the De Quille manifestation, however, he has not recorded.
Clemens immediately wrote, urging Dan to come to Hartford for an extended
visit. De Quille came, and put in a happy spring in his old comrade's
luxurious home, writing 'The Big Bonanza', which Bliss successfully
published a year later.

Mark Twain was continually inviting old friends to share his success with
him. Any comrade of former days found welcome in his home as often as he
would come, and for as long as he would stay. Clemens dropped his own
affairs to advise in their undertakings; and if their undertakings were
literary he found them a publisher. He did this for Joaquin Miller and
for Bret Harte, and he was always urging Goodman to make his house a
home.

The Beecher-Tilton trial was the sensation of the spring of 1875, and
Clemens, in common with many others, was greatly worked up over it. The
printed testimony had left him decidedly in doubt as to Beecher's
innocence, though his blame would seem to have been less for the possible
offense than because of the great leader's attitude in the matter. To
Twichell he said:

"His quibbling was fatal. Innocent or guilty, he should have made an
unqualified statement in the beginning."

Together they attended one of the sessions, on a day when Beecher himself
was on the witness-stand. The tension was very great; the excitement was
painful. Twichell thought that Beecher appeared well under the stress of
examination and was deeply sorry for him; Clemens was far from convinced.

The feeling was especially strong in Hartford, where Henry Ward Beecher's
relatives were prominent, and animosities grew out of it. They are all
forgotten now; most of those who cherished bitterness are dead. Any
feeling that Clemens had in the matter lasted but a little while. Howells
tells us that when he met him some months after the trial ended, and was
tempted to mention it, Clemens discouraged any discussion of the event.
Says Howells:

    He would only say the man had suffered enough; as if the man had
    expiated his wrong, and he was not going to do anything to renew his
    penalty. I found that very curious, very delicate. His continued
    blame could not come to the sufferer's knowledge, but he felt it his
    duty to forbear it.

It was one hundred years, that 19th of April, since the battles of
Lexington and Concord, and there was to be a great celebration. The
Howellses had visited Hartford in March, and the Clemenses were invited
to Cambridge for the celebration. Only Clemens could go, which in the
event proved a good thing perhaps; for when Clemens and Howells set out
for Concord they did not go over to Boston to take the train, but decided
to wait for it at Cambridge. Apparently it did not occur to them that
the train would be jammed the moment the doors were opened at the Boston
station; but when it came along they saw how hopeless was their chance.
They had special invitations and passage from Boston, but these were only
mockeries now. It yeas cold and chilly, and they forlornly set out in
search of some sort of a conveyance. They tramped around in the mud and
raw wind, but vehicles were either filled or engaged, and drivers and
occupants were inclined to jeer at them. Clemens was taken with an acute
attack of indigestion, which made him rather dismal and savage. Their
effort finally ended with his trying to run down a tally-ho which was
empty inside and had a party of Harvard students riding atop. The
students, who did not recognize their would-be fare, enjoyed the race.
They encouraged their pursuer, and perhaps their driver, with merriment
and cheers. Clemens was handicapped by having to run in the slippery
mud, and soon "dropped by the wayside."

"I am glad," says Howells, "I cannot recall what he said when he came
back to me."

They hung about a little longer, then dragged themselves home, slipped
into the house, and built up a fine, cheerful fire on the hearth. They
proposed to practise a deception on Mrs. Howells by pretending they had
been to Concord and returned. But it was no use. Their statements were
flimsy, and guilt was plainly written on their faces. Howells recalls
this incident delightfully, and expresses the belief that the humor of
the situation was finally a greater pleasure to Clemens than the actual
visit to Concord would have been.

Twichell did not have any such trouble in attending the celebration. He
had adventures (he was always having adventures), but they were of a more
successful kind. Clemens heard the tale of them when he returned to
Hartford. He wrote it to Howells:

    Joe Twichell preached morning and evening here last Sunday; took
    midnight train for Boston; got an early breakfast and started by
    rail at 7.30 A.M. for Concord; swelled around there until 1 P.M.,
    seeing everything; then traveled on top of a train to Lexington; saw
    everything there; traveled on top of a train to Boston (with
    hundreds in company), deluged with dust, smoke, and cinders; yelled
    and hurrahed all the way like a school-boy; lay flat down, to dodge
    numerous bridges, and sailed into the depot howling with excitement
    and as black as a chimneysweep; got to Young's Hotel at 7 P.M.; sat
    down in the reading-room and immediately fell asleep; was promptly
    awakened by a porter, who supposed he was drunk; wandered around an
    hour and a half; then took 9 P.M. train, sat down in a smoking-car,
    and remembered nothing more until awakened by conductor as the train
    came into Hartford at 1.30 A.M. Thinks he had simply a glorious
    time, and wouldn't have missed the Centennial for the world. He
    would have run out to see us a moment at Cambridge but he was too
    dirty. I wouldn't have wanted him there; his appalling energy would
    have been an insufferable reproach to mild adventurers like you and
    me.




CI

CONCLUDING "TOM SAWYER"--MARK TWAIN's "EDITORS"

Meantime the "inspiration tank," as Clemens sometimes called it, had
filled up again. He had received from somewhere new afflatus for the
story of Tom and Huck, and was working on it steadily. The family
remained in Hartford, and early in July, under full head of steam, he
brought the story to a close. On the 5th he wrote Howells:

    I have finished the story and didn't take the chap beyond boyhood.
    I believe it would be fatal to do it in any shape but
    autobiographically, like Gil Blas. I perhaps made a mistake in not
    writing it in the first person. If I went on now, and took him into
    manhood, he would just lie, like all the one-horse men in
    literature, and the reader would conceive a hearty contempt for him.
    It is not a boy's book at all. It will only be read by adults. It
    is only written for adults.

He would like to see the story in the Atlantic, he said, but doubted the
wisdom of serialization.

"By and by I shall take a boy of twelve and run him through life (in the
first person), but not Tam Sawyer, he would not make a good character for
it." From which we get the first glimpse of Huck's later adventures.

Of course he wanted Howells to look at the story. It was a tremendous
favor to ask, he said, and added, "But I know of no other person whose
judgment I could venture to take, fully and entirely. Don't hesitate to
say no, for I know how your time is taxed, and I would have honest need
to blush if you said yes."

"Send on your MS.," wrote Howells. "You've no idea what I may ask you to
do for me some day."

But Clemens, conscience-stricken, "blushed and weakened," as he said.
When Howells insisted, he wrote:

    But I will gladly send it to you if you will do as follows:
    dramatize it, if you perceive that you can, and take, for your
    remuneration, half of the first $6,000 which I receive for its
    representation on the stage. You could alter the plot entirely if
    you chose. I could help in the work most cheerfully after you had
    arranged the plot. I have my eye upon two young girls who can play
    Tom and Huck.

Howells in his reply urged. Clemens to do the playwriting himself. He
could never find time, he said, and he doubted whether he could enter
into the spirit of another man's story. Clemens did begin a
dramatization then or a little later, but it was not completed. Mrs.
Clemens, to whom he had read the story as it proceeded, was as anxious as
her husband for Howells's opinion, for it was the first extended piece of
fiction Mark Twain had undertaken alone. He carried the manuscript over
to Boston himself, and whatever their doubts may have been, Howells's
subsequent letter set them at rest. He wrote that he had sat up till one
in the morning to get to the end of it, simply because it was impossible
to leave off.

It is altogether the best boy story I ever read. It will be an immense
success, but I think you ought to treat it explicitly as a boy's story;
grown-ups will enjoy it just as much if you do, and if you should put it
forth as a story of boys' character from the grown-up point of view you
give the wrong key to it.

Viewed in the light of later events, there has never been any better
literary opinion than that--none that has been more fully justified.

Clemens was delighted. He wrote concerning a point here and there, one
inquiry referring to the use of a certain strong word. Howells's reply
left no doubt:

    I'd have that swearing out in an instant. I suppose I didn't notice
    it because the location was so familiar to my Western sense, and so
    exactly the thing Huck would say, but it won't do for children.

It was in the last chapter, where Huck relates to Tom the sorrows of
reform and tells how they comb him "all to thunder." In the original,
"They comb me all to hell," says Huck; which statement, one must agree,
is more effective, more the thing Huck would be likely to say.

Clemens's acknowledgment of the correction was characteristic:

    Mrs. Clemens received the mail this morning, and the next minute she
    lit into the study with danger in her eye and this demand on her
    tongue, "Where is the profanity Mr. Howells speaks of?" Then I had
    to miserably confess that I had left it out when reading the MS. to
    her. Nothing but almost inspired lying got me out of this scrape
    with my scalp. Does your wife give you rats, like that, when you go
    a little one-sided?

The Clemens family did not, go to Elmira that year. The children's
health seemed to require the sea-shore, and in August they went to
Bateman's Point, Rhode Island, where Clemens most of the time played
tenpins in an alley that had gone to ruin. The balls would not stay on
the track; the pins stood at inebriate angles. It reminded him of the
old billiard-tables of Western mining-camps, and furnished the same
uncertainty of play. It was his delight, after he had become accustomed
to the eccentricities of the alley, to invite in a stranger and watch his
suffering and his frantic effort to score.




CII

"SKETCHES NEW AND OLD"

The long-delayed book of Sketches, contracted for five years before, was
issued that autumn. "The Jumping Frog," which he had bought from Webb,
was included in the volume, also the French translation which Madame
Blanc (Th. Bentzon) had made for the Revue des deux mondes, with Mark
Twain's retranslation back into English, a most astonishing performance
in its literal rendition of the French idiom. One example will suffice
here. It is where the stranger says to Smiley, "I don't see no p'ints
about that frog that's any better'n any other frog."

Says the French, retranslated:

"Eh bien! I no saw not that that frog had nothing of better than each
frog" (Je ne vois pas que cette grenouille ait mieux qu'aucune
grenouille). (If that isn't grammar gone to seed then I count myself no
judge.--M. T.)

"Possible that you not it saw not," said Smiley; "possible that you you
comprehend frogs; possible that you not you there comprehend nothing;
possible that you had of the experience, and possible that you not be but
an amateur. Of all manner (de toute maniere) I bet forty dollars that
she batter in jumping, no matter which frog of the county of Calaveras."

He included a number of sketches originally published with the Frog, also
a selection from the "Memoranda" and Buffalo Express contributions, and
he put in the story of Auntie Cord, with some matter which had never
hitherto appeared. True Williams illustrated the book, but either it
furnished him no inspiration or he was allowed too much of another sort,
for the pictures do not compare with his earlier work.

Among the new matter in the book were-"Some Fables for Good Old Boys and
Girls," in which certain wood creatures are supposed to make a scientific
excursion into a place at some time occupied by men. It is the most
pretentious feature of the book, and in its way about as good as any.
Like Gulliver's Travels, its object was satire, but its result is also
interest.

Clemens was very anxious that Howells should be first to review this
volume. He had a superstition that Howells's verdicts were echoed by the
lesser reviewers, and that a book was made or damned accordingly; a
belief hardly warranted, for the review has seldom been written that
meant to any book the difference between success and failure. Howells's
review of Sketches may be offered as a case in point. It was highly
commendatory, much more so than the notice of the 'Innocents' had been,
or even that of 'Roughing It', also more extensive than the latter. Yet
after the initial sale of some twenty thousand copies, mainly on the
strength of the author's reputation, the book made a comparatively poor
showing, and soon lagged far behind its predecessors.

We cannot judge, of course, the taste of that day, but it appears now an
unattractive, incoherent volume. The pictures were absurdly bad, the
sketches were of unequal merit. Many of them are amusing, some of them
delightful, but most of them seem ephemeral. If we except "The Jumping
Frog," and possibly "A True Story" (and the latter was altogether out of
place in the collection), there is no reason to suppose that any of its
contents will escape oblivion. The greater number of the sketches, as
Mark Twain himself presently realized and declared, would better have
been allowed to die.

Howells did, however, take occasion to point out in his review, or at
least to suggest, the more serious side of Mark Twain. He particularly
called attention to "A True Story," which the reviewers, at the time of
its publication in the Atlantic, had treated lightly, fearing a lurking
joke in it; or it may be they had not read it, for reviewers are busy
people. Howells spoke of it as the choicest piece of work in the volume,
and of its "perfect fidelity to the tragic fact." He urged the reader to
turn to it again, and to read it as a "simple dramatic report of
reality," such as had been equaled by no other American writer.

It was in this volume of sketches that Mark Twain first spoke in print
concerning copyright, showing the absurd injustice of discriminating
against literary ownership by statute of limitation. He did this in the
form of an open petition to Congress, asking that all property, real and
personal, should be put on the copyright basis, its period of ownership
limited to a "beneficent term of forty-two years." Generally this was
regarded as a joke, as in a sense it was; but like most of Mark Twain's
jokes it was founded on reason and justice.

The approval with which it was received by his literary associates led
him to still further flights. He began a determined crusade for
international copyright laws. It was a transcendental beginning, but it
contained the germ of what, in the course of time, he would be largely
instrumental in bringing to a ripe and magnificent conclusion. In this
first effort he framed a petition to enact laws by which the United
States would declare itself to be for right and justice, regardless of
other nations, and become a good example to the world by refusing to
pirate the books of any foreign author. He wrote to Howells, urging him
to get Lowell, Longfellow, Holmes, Whittier, and others to sign this
petition.

I will then put a gentlemanly chap under wages, and send him personally
to every author of distinction in the country and corral the rest of the
signatures. Then I'll have the whole thing lithographed (about one
thousand copies), and move upon the President and Congress in person, but
in the subordinate capacity of the party who is merely the agent of
better and wiser men, or men whom the country cannot venture to laugh at.
I will ask the President to recommend the thing in his message (and if he
should ask me to sit down and frame the paragraph for him I should blush,
but still I would frame it). And then if Europe chooses to go on
stealing from us we would say, with noble enthusiasm, "American lawmakers
do steal, but not from foreign authors--not from foreign authors,".... If
we only had some God in the country's laws, instead of being in such a
sweat to get Him into the Constitution, it would be better all around.

The petition never reached Congress. Holmes agreed to sign it with a
smile, and the comment that governments were not in the habit of setting
themselves up as high moral examples, except for revenue. Longfellow
also pledged himself, as did a few others; but if there was any general
concurrence in the effort there is no memory of it now. Clemens
abandoned the original idea, but remained one of the most persistent and
influential advocates of copyright betterment, and lived to see most of
his dream fulfilled.--[For the petition concerning copyright term in the
United States, see Sketches New and Old. For the petition concerning
international copyright and related matters, see Appendix N, at the end
of last volume.]




CIII

"ATLANTIC" DAYS

It was about this period that Mark Twain began to exhibit openly his more
serious side; that is to say his advocacy of public reforms. His paper
on "Universal Suffrage" had sounded a first note, and his copyright
petitions were of the same spirit. In later years he used to say that he
had always felt it was his mission to teach, to carry the banner of moral
reconstruction, and here at forty we find him furnishing evidences of
this inclination. In the Atlantic for October, 1875, there was published
an unsigned three-page article entitled, "The Curious Republic of
Gondour." In this article was developed the idea that the voting
privilege should be estimated not by the individuals, but by their
intellectual qualifications. The republic of Gondour was a Utopia, where
this plan had been established:

    It was an odd idea and ingenious. You must understand the
    constitution gave every man a vote; therefore that vote was a vested
    right, and could not be taken away. But the constitution did not
    say that certain individuals might not be given two votes or ten.
    So an amendatory clause was inserted in a quiet way, a clause which
    authorized the enlargement of the suffrage in certain cases to be
    specified by statute....

    The victory was complete. The new law was framed and passed. Under
    it every citizen, howsoever poor or ignorant, possessed one vote, so
    universal suffrage still reigned; but if a man possessed a good
    common-school education and no money he had two votes, a high-school
    education gave him four; if he had property, likewise, to the value
    of three thousand sacos he wielded one more vote; for every fifty
    thousand sacos a man added to his property, he was entitled to
    another vote; a University education entitled a man to nine votes,
    even though he owned no property.

The author goes on to show the beneficent results of this enaction; how
the country was benefited and glorified by this stimulus toward
enlightenment and industry. No one ever suspected that Mark Twain was
the author of this fable. It contained almost no trace of his usual
literary manner. Nevertheless he wrote it, and only withheld his name,
as he did in a few other instances, in the fear that the world might
refuse to take him seriously over his own signature or nom de plume.

Howells urged him to follow up the "Gondour" paper; to send some more
reports from that model land. But Clemens was engaged in other things by
that time, and was not pledged altogether to national reforms.

He was writing a skit about a bit of doggerel which was then making
nights and days unhappy for many undeserving persons who in an evil
moment had fallen upon it in some stray newspaper corner. A certain car
line had recently adopted the "punch system," and posted in its cars, for
the information of passengers and conductor, this placard:

A Blue Trip Slip for an 8 Cents Fare, A Buff Trip Slip for a 6 Cents
Fare, A Pink Trip Slip for a 3 Cents Fare, For Coupon And Transfer, Punch
The Tickets.

Noah Brooks and Isaac Bromley were riding down-town one evening on the
Fourth Avenue line, when Bromley said:

"Brooks, it's poetry. By George, it's poetry!"

Brooks followed the direction of Bromley's finger and read the card of
instructions. They began perfecting the poetic character of the notice,
giving it still more of a rhythmic twist and jingle; arrived at the
Tribune office, W. C. Wyckoff, scientific editor, and Moses P. Handy lent
intellectual and poetic assistance, with this result:

       Conductor, when you receive a fare,

       Punch in the presence of the passenjare!
       A blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare,
       A buff trip slip for a six-cent fare,
       A pink trip slip for a three-cent fare.
       Punch in the presence of the passenjare!

    CHORUS
       Punch, brothers! Punch with care!
       Punch in the presence of the passenjare!

It was printed, and street-car poetry became popular. Different papers
had a turn at it, and each usually preceded its own effort with all other
examples, as far as perpetrated. Clemens discovered the lines, and on
one of their walks recited them to Twichell. "A Literary Nightmare" was
written a few days later. In it the author tells how the jingle took
instant and entire possession of him and went waltzing through his brain;
how, when he had finished his breakfast, he couldn't tell whether he had
eaten anything or not; and how, when he went to finish the novel he was
writing, and took up his pen, he could only get it to say:

Punch in the presence of the passenjare.

He found relief at last in telling it to his reverend friend, that is,
Twichell, upon whom he unloaded it with sad results.

It was an amusing and timely skit, and is worth reading to-day. Its
publication in the Atlantic had the effect of waking up horse-car poetry
all over the world. Howells, going to dine at Ernest Longfellow's the
day following its appearance, heard his host and Tom Appleton urging each
other to "Punch with care." The Longfellow ladies had it by heart.
Boston was devastated by it. At home, Howells's children recited it to
him in chorus. The streets were full of it; in Harvard it became an
epidemic.

It was transformed into other tongues. Even Swinburne, the musical, is
said to have done a French version for the 'Revue des deux mondes'*. A
St. Louis magazine, The Western, found relief in a Latin anthem with this
chorus:

Pungite, fratres, pungite, Pungite cum amore, Pungite pro vectore,
Diligentissime pungite.

              * LE CHANT DU CONDUCTEUR

           Ayant ete paye, le conducteur
           Percera en pleine vue du voyageur,
           Quand il regoit trois sous un coupon vert,
           Un coupon jaune pour six sous c'est l'affaire,
           Et pour huit sous c'est un coupon couleur
           De rose, en pleine vue du voyageur.

       CHOEUR
           Donc, percez soigneusement, mes freres
           Tout en pleine vue des voyageurs, etc.




CIV

MARK TWAIN AND HIS WIFE

Clemens and his wife traveled to Boston for one of those happy
fore-gatherings with the Howellses, which continued, at one end of the
journey or another, for so many years. There was a luncheon with
Longfellow at Craigie House, and, on the return to Hartford, Clemens
reported to Howells how Mrs. Clemens had thrived on the happiness of the
visit. Also he confesses his punishment for the usual crimes:

    I "caught it" for letting Mrs. Howells bother and bother about her
    coffee, when it was a "good deal better than we get at home." I
    "caught it" for interrupting Mrs. C. at the last moment and losing
    her the opportunity to urge you not to forget to send her that MS.
    when the printers are done with it. I "caught it" once more for
    personating that drunken Colonel James. I "caught it" for
    mentioning that Mr. Longfellow's picture was slightly damaged; and
    when, after a lull in the storm, I confessed, shamefacedly, that I
    had privately suggested to you that we hadn't any frames, and that
    if you wouldn't mind hinting to Mr. Houghton, etc., etc., etc., the
    madam was simply speechless for the space of a minute. Then she
    said:

    "How could you, Youth! The idea of sending Mr. Howells, with his
    sensitive nature, upon such a repulsive er--"

    "Oh, Howells won't mind it! You don't know Howells. Howells is a
    man who--"

    She was gone. But George was the first person she stumbled on in
    the hall, so she took it out of George. I am glad of that, because
    it saved the babies.

Clemens used to admit, at a later day, that his education did not advance
by leaps and bounds, but gradually, very gradually; and it used to give
him a pathetic relief in those after-years, when that sweet presence had
gone out of his life, to tell the way of it, to confess over-fully,
perhaps, what a responsibility he had been to her.

He used to tell how, for a long time, he concealed his profanity from
her; how one morning, when he thought the door was shut between their
bedroom and the bathroom, he was in there dressing and shaving,
accompanying these trying things with language intended only for the
strictest privacy; how presently, when he discovered a button off the
shirt he intended to put on, he hurled it through the window into the
yard with appropriate remarks, followed it with another shirt that was in
the same condition, and added certain collars and neckties and bath-room
requisites, decorating the shrubbery outside, where the people were going
by to church; how in this extreme moment he heard a slight cough and
turned to find that the door was open! There was only one door to the
bath-room, and he knew he had to pass her. He felt pale and sick, and
sat down for a few moments to consider. He decided to assume that she
was asleep, and to walk out and through the room, head up, as if he had
nothing on his conscience. He attempted it, but without success.
Half-way across the room he heard a voice suddenly repeat his last
terrific remark. He turned to see her sitting up in bed, regarding him
with a look as withering as she could find in her gentle soul. The humor
of it struck him.

"Livy," he said, "did it sound like that?"

"Of course it did," she said, "only worse. I wanted you to hear just how
it sounded."

"Livy," he said, "it would pain me to think that when I swear it sounds
like that. You got the words right, Livy, but you don't know the tune."

Yet he never willingly gave her pain, and he adored her and gloried in
her dominion, his life long. Howells speaks of his beautiful and tender
loyalty to her as the "most moving quality of his most faithful soul."

It was a greater part of him than the love of most men for their wives,
and she merited all the worship he could give her, all the devotion, all
the implicit obedience, by her surpassing force and beauty of character.

She guarded his work sacredly; and reviewing the manuscripts which he was
induced to discard, and certain edited manuscripts, one gets a partial
idea of what the reading world owes to Olivia Clemens. Of the discarded.
manuscripts (he seems seldom to have destroyed them) there are a
multitude, and among them all scarcely one that is not a proof of her
sanity and high regard for his literary honor. They are amusing--some of
them; they are interesting--some of them; they are strong and virile
--some of them; but they are unworthy--most of them, though a number
remain unfinished because theme or interest failed.

Mark Twain was likely to write not wisely but too much, piling up
hundreds of manuscript pages only because his brain was thronging as with
a myriad of fireflies, a swarm of darting, flashing ideas demanding
release. As often as not he began writing with only a nebulous idea of
what he proposed to do. He would start with a few characters and
situations, trusting in Providence to supply material as needed. So he
was likely to run ashore any time. As for those other attempts--stories
"unavailable" for one reason or another--he was just as apt to begin
those as the better sort, for somehow he could never tell the difference.
That is one of the hall-marks of genius--the thing which sharply
differentiates genius from talent. Genius is likely to rate a literary
disaster as its best work. Talent rarely makes that mistake.

Among the abandoned literary undertakings of these early years of
authorship there is the beginning of what was doubtless intended to
become a book, "The Second Advent," a story which opens with a very
doubtful miraculous conception in Arkansas, and leads only to grotesquery
and literary disorder. There is another, "The Autobiography of a Damn
Fool," a burlesque on family history, hopelessly impossible; yet he began
it with vast enthusiasm and, until he allowed her to see the manuscript,
thought it especially good. "Livy wouldn't have it," he said, "so I gave
it up." There is another, "The Mysterious Chamber," strong and fine in
conception, vividly and intensely interesting; the story of a young lover
who is accidentally locked behind a secret door in an old castle and
cannot announce himself. He wanders at last down into subterranean
passages beneath the castle, and he lives in this isolation for twenty
years. The question of sustenance was the weak point in the story.
Clemens could invent no way of providing it, except by means of a waste
or conduit from the kitchen into which scraps of meat, bread, and other
items of garbage were thrown. This he thought sufficient, but Mrs.
Clemens did not highly regard such a literary device. Clemens could
think of no good way to improve upon it, so this effort too was consigned
to the penal colony, a set of pigeonholes kept in his study. To Howells
and others, when they came along, he would read the discarded yarns, and
they were delightful enough for such a purpose, as delightful as the
sketches which every artist has, turned face to the wall.

"Captain Stormfield" lay under the ban for many a year, though never
entirely abandoned. This manuscript was even recommended for publication
by Howells, who has since admitted that it would not have done then; and
indeed, in its original, primitive nakedness it would hardly have done
even in this day of wider toleration.

It should be said here that there is not the least evidence (and the
manuscripts are full of evidence) that Mrs. Clemens was ever
super-sensitive, or narrow, or unliterary in her restraints. She became
his public, as it were, and no man ever had a more open-minded,
clear-headed public than that. For Mark Twain's reputation it would have
been better had she exercised her editorial prerogative even more
actively--if, in her love for him and her jealousy of his reputation, she
had been even more severe. She did all that lay in her strength, from
the beginning to the end, and if we dwell upon this phase of their life
together it is because it is so large a part of Mark Twain's literary
story. On her birthday in the year we are now closing (1875) he wrote
her a letter which conveys an acknowledgment of his debt.

LIVY DARLING,--Six years have gone by since I made my first great success
in life and won you, and thirty years have passed since Providence made
preparation for that happy success by sending you into the world. Every
day we live together adds to the security of my confidence that we can
never any more wish to be separated than we can imagine a regret that we
were ever joined. You are dearer to me to-day, my child, than you were
upon the last anniversary of this birthday; you were dearer then than you
were a year before; you have grown more and more dear from the first of
those anniversaries, and I do not doubt that this precious progression
will continue on to the end.

Let us look forward to the coming anniversaries, with their age and their
gray hairs, without fear and without depression, trusting and believing
that the love we bear each other will be sufficient to make them blessed.

So, with abounding affection for you and our babies I hail this day that
brings you the matronly grace and dignity of three decades!






MARK TWAIN, A BIOGRAPHY

By Albert Bigelow Paine



VOLUME II, Part 1: 1875-1886



CV


MARK TWAIN AT FORTY

In conversation with John Hay, Hay said to Clemens:

"A man reaches the zenith at forty, the top of the hill. From that time
forward he begins to descend. If you have any great undertaking ahead,
begin it now. You will never be so capable again."

Of course this was only a theory of Hay's, a rule where rules do not
apply, where in the end the problem resolves itself into a question of
individualities. John Hay did as great work after forty as ever before,
so did Mark Twain, and both of them gained in intellectual strength and
public honor to the very end.

Yet it must have seemed to many who knew him, and to himself, like
enough, that Mark Twain at forty had reached the pinnacle of his fame and
achievement. His name was on every lip; in whatever environment
observation and argument were likely to be pointed with some saying or
anecdote attributed, rightly or otherwise, to Mark Twain. "As Mark Twain
says," or, "You know that story of Mark Twain's," were universal and
daily commonplaces. It was dazzling, towering fame, not of the best or
most enduring kind as yet, but holding somewhere within it the structure
of immortality.

He was in a constant state of siege, besought by all varieties and
conditions of humanity for favors such as only human need and abnormal
ingenuity can invent. His ever-increasing mail presented a marvelous
exhibition of the human species on undress parade. True, there were
hundreds of appreciative tributes from readers who spoke only out of a
heart's gratitude; but there were nearly as great a number who came with
a compliment, and added a petition, or a demand, or a suggestion, usually
unwarranted, often impertinent. Politicians, public speakers, aspiring
writers, actors, elocutionists, singers, inventors (most of them he had
never seen or heard of) cheerfully asked him for a recommendation as to
their abilities and projects.

Young men wrote requesting verses or sentiments to be inscribed in young
ladies' autograph albums; young girls wrote asking him to write the story
of his life, to be used as a school composition; men starting obscure
papers coolly invited him to lend them his name as editor, assuring him
that he would be put to no trouble, and that it would help advertise his
books; a fruitful humorist wrote that he had invented some five thousand
puns, and invited Mark Twain to father this terrific progeny in book form
for a share of the returns. But the list is endless. He said once:

"The symbol of the race ought to be a human being carrying an ax, for
every human being has one concealed about him somewhere, and is always
seeking the opportunity to grind it."

Even P. T. Barnum had an ax, the large ax of advertising, and he was
perpetually trying to grind it on Mark Twain's reputation; in other
words, trying to get him to write something that would help to popularize
"The Greatest Show on Earth."

There were a good many curious letters-letters from humorists, would-be
and genuine. A bright man in Duluth sent him an old Allen "pepper-box"
revolver with the statement that it had been found among a pile of bones
under a tree, from the limb of which was suspended a lasso and a buffalo
skull; this as evidence that the weapon was the genuine Allen which Bemis
had lost on that memorable Overland buffalo-hunt. Mark Twain enjoyed
that, and kept the old pepper-box as long as he lived. There were
letters from people with fads; letters from cranks of every description;
curious letters even from friends. Reginald Cholmondeley, that lovely
eccentric of Condover Hall, where Mr. and Mrs. Clemens had spent some
halcyon days in 1873, wrote him invitations to be at his castle on a
certain day, naming the hour, and adding that he had asked friends to
meet him. Cholmondeley had a fancy for birds, and spared nothing to
improve his collection. Once he wrote Clemens asking him to collect for
him two hundred and five American specimens, naming the varieties and the
amount which he was to pay for each. Clemens was to catch these birds
and bring them over to England, arriving at Condover on a certain day,
when there would be friends to meet him, of course.

Then there was a report which came now and then from another English
castle--the minutes of a certain "Mark Twain Club," all neatly and
elaborately written out, with the speech of each member and the
discussions which had followed--the work, he found out later, of another
eccentric; for there was no Mark Twain Club, the reports being just the
mental diversion of a rich young man, with nothing else to do.--[In
Following the Equator Clemens combined these two pleasant characters in
one story, with elaborations.]

Letters came queerly addressed. There is one envelope still in existence
which bears Clemens's name in elaborate design and a very good silhouette
likeness, the work of some talented artist. "Mark Twain, United States,"
was a common address; "Mark Twain, The World," was also used; "Mark
Twain, Somewhere," mailed in a foreign country, reached him promptly, and
"Mark Twain, Anywhere," found its way to Hartford in due season. Then
there was a letter (though this was later; he was abroad at the time),
mailed by Brander Matthews and Francis Wilson, addressed, "Mark Twain,
God Knows Where." It found him after traveling half around the world on
its errand, and in his answer he said, "He did." Then some one sent a
letter addressed, "The Devil Knows Where." Which also reached him, and
he answered, "He did, too."

Surely this was the farthest horizon of fame.

Countless Mark Twain anecdotes are told of this period, of every period,
and will be told and personally vouched for so long as the last soul of
his generation remains alive. For seventy years longer, perhaps, there
will be those who will relate "personal recollections" of Mark Twain.
Many of them will be interesting; some of them will be true; most of them
will become history at last. It is too soon to make history of much of
this drift now. It is only safe to admit a few authenticated examples.

It happens that one of the oftenest-told anecdotes has been the least
elaborated. It is the one about his call on Mrs. Stowe. Twichell's
journal entry, set down at the time, verifies it:

Mrs. Stowe was leaving for Florida one morning, and Clemens ran over
early to say good-by. On his return Mrs. Clemens regarded him
disapprovingly:

"Why, Youth," she said, "you haven't on any collar and tie."

He said nothing, but went up to his room, did up these items in a neat
package, and sent it over by a servant, with a line:

"Herewith receive a call from the rest of me."

Mrs. Stowe returned a witty note, in which she said that he had
discovered a new principle, the principle of making calls by instalments,
and asked whether, in extreme cases, a man might not send his hat, coat,
and boots and be otherwise excused.

Col. Henry Watterson tells the story of an after-theater supper at the
Brevoort House, where Murat Halstead, Mark Twain, and himself were
present. A reporter sent in a card for Colonel Watterson, who was about
to deny himself when Clemens said:

"Give it to me; I'll fix it." And left the table. He came back in a
moment and beckoned to Watterson.

"He is young and as innocent as a lamb," he said. "I represented myself
as your secretary. I said that you were not here, but if Mr. Halstead
would do as well I would fetch him out. I'll introduce you as Halstead,
and we'll have some fun."

Now, while Watterson and Halstead were always good friends, they were
political enemies. It was a political season and the reporter wanted
that kind of an interview. Watterson gave it to him, repudiating every
principle that Halstead stood for, reversing him in every expressed
opinion. Halstead was for hard money and given to flying the "bloody
shirt" of sectional prejudice; Watterson lowered the bloody shirt and
declared for greenbacks in Halstead's name. Then he and Clemens returned
to the table and told frankly what they had done. Of course, nobody
believed it. The report passed the World night-editor, and appeared,
next morning. Halstead woke up, then, and wrote a note to the World,
denying the interview throughout. The World printed his note with the
added line:

"When Mr. Halstead saw our reporter he had dined."

It required John Hay (then on the Tribune) to place the joke where it
belonged.

There is a Lotos Club anecdote of Mark Twain that carries the internal
evidence of truth. Saturday evening at the Lotos always brought a
gathering of the "wits," and on certain evenings--"Hens and chickens"
nights--each man had to tell a story, make a speech, or sing a song. On
one evening a young man, an invited guest, was called upon and recited a
very long poem.

One by one those who sat within easy reach of the various exits melted
away, until no one remained but Mark Twain. Perhaps he saw the
earnestness of the young man, and sympathized with it. He may have
remembered a time when he would have been grateful for one such attentive
auditor. At all events, he sat perfectly still, never taking his eyes
from the reader, never showing the least inclination toward discomfort or
impatience, but listening, as with rapt attention, to the very last line.
Douglas Taylor, one of the faithful Saturday-night members, said to him
later:

"Mark, how did you manage to sit through that dreary, interminable poem?"

"Well," he said, "that young man thought he had a divine message to
deliver, and I thought he was entitled to at least one auditor, so I
stayed with him."

We may believe that for that one auditor the young author was willing to
sacrifice all the others.

One might continue these anecdotes for as long as the young man's poem
lasted, and perhaps hold as large an audience. But anecdotes are not all
of history. These are set down because they reflect a phase of the man
and an aspect of his life at this period. For at the most we can only
present an angle here and there, and tell a little of the story, letting
each reader from his fancy construct the rest.




CVI

HIS FIRST STAGE APPEARANCE

Once that winter the Monday Evening Club met at Mark Twain's home, and
instead of the usual essay he read them a story: "The Facts Concerning
the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut." It was the story of a
man's warfare with a personified conscience--a sort of "William Wilson"
idea, though less weird, less somber, and with more actuality, more
verisimilitude. It was, in fact, autobiographical, a setting-down of the
author's daily self-chidings. The climax, where conscience is slain, is
a startling picture which appeals to most of humanity. So vivid is it
all, that it is difficult in places not to believe in the reality of the
tale, though the allegory is always present.

The club was deeply impressed by the little fictional sermon. One of its
ministerial members offered his pulpit for the next Sunday if Mark Twain
would deliver it to his congregation. Howells welcomed it for the
Atlantic, and published it in June. It was immensely successful at the
time, though for some reason it seems to be little known or remembered
to-day. Now and then a reader mentions it, always with enthusiasm.
Howells referred to it repeatedly in his letters, and finally persuaded
Clemens to let Osgood bring it out, with "A True Story," in dainty,
booklet form. If the reader does not already know the tale, it will pay
him to look it up and read it, and then to read it again.

Meantime Tom Sawyer remained unpublished.

"Get Bliss to hurry it up!" wrote Howells. "That boy is going to make a
prodigious hit."

But Clemens delayed the book, to find some means to outwit the Canadian
pirates, who thus far had laid hands on everything, and now were
clamoring at the Atlantic because there was no more to steal.

Moncure D. Conway was in America, and agreed to take the manuscript of
Sawyer to London and arrange for its publication and copyright. In
Conway's Memoirs he speaks of Mark Twain's beautiful home, comparing it
and its surroundings with the homes of Surrey, England. He tells of an
entertainment given to Harriet Beecher Stowe, a sort of animated jarley
wax-works. Clemens and Conway went over as if to pay a call, when
presently the old lady was rather startled by an invasion of costumed.
figures. Clemens rose and began introducing them in his gay, fanciful
fashion. He began with a knight in full armor, saying, as if in an
aside, "Bring along that tinshop," and went on to tell the romance of the
knight's achievements.

Conway read Tom Sawyer on the ship and was greatly excited over it.
Later, in London, he lectured on it, arranging meantime for its
publication with Chatto & Windus, thus establishing a friendly business
relation with that firm which Mark Twain continued during his lifetime.

Clemens lent himself to a number of institutional amusements that year,
and on the 26th of April, 1876, made his first public appearance on the
dramatic stage.

It was an amateur performance, but not of the usual kind. There was
genuine dramatic talent in Hartford, and the old play of the "Loan of the
Lover," with Mark Twain as Peter Spuyk and Miss Helen Smith--[Now Mrs.
William W. Ellsworth.]--as Gertrude, with a support sufficient for their
needs, gave a performance that probably furnished as much entertainment
as that pleasant old play is capable of providing. Mark Twain had in him
the making of a great actor. Henry Irving once said to him:

"You made a mistake by not adopting the stage as a profession. You would
have made even a greater actor than a writer."

Yet it is unlikely that he would ever have been satisfied with the stage.
He had too many original literary ideas. He would never have been
satisfied to repeat the same part over and over again, night after night
from week to month, and from month to year. He could not stick to the
author's lines even for one night. In his performance of the easy-going,
thick-headed Peter Spuyk his impromptu additions to the lines made it
hard on the company, who found their cues all at sixes and sevens, but it
delighted the audience beyond measure. No such impersonation of that.
character was ever given before, or ever will be given again. It was
repeated with new and astonishing variations on the part of Peter, and it
could have been put on for a long run. Augustin Daly wrote immediately,
offering the Fifth Avenue Theater for a "benefit" performance, and again,
a few days later, urging acceptance. "Not for one night, but for many."

Clemens was tempted, no doubt. Perhaps, if he had yielded, he would
today have had one more claim on immortality.




CVII

HOWELLS, CLEMENS, AND "GEORGE"

Howells and Clemens were visiting back and forth rather oftener just
then. Clemens was particularly fond of the Boston crowd--Aldrich,
Fields, Osgood, and the rest--delighting in those luncheons or dinners
which Osgood, that hospitable publisher, was always giving on one pretext
or another. No man ever loved company more than Osgood, or to play the
part of host and pay for the enjoyment of others. His dinners were
elaborate affairs, where the sages and poets and wits of that day (and
sometimes their wives) gathered. They were happy reunions, those
fore-gatherings, though perhaps a more intimate enjoyment was found at
the luncheons, where only two or three were invited, usually Aldrich,
Howells, and Clemens, and the talk continued through the afternoon and
into the deepening twilight, such company and such twilight as somehow
one seems never to find any more.

On one of the visits which Howells made to Hartford that year he took his
son John, then a small boy, with him. John was about six years old at
the time, with his head full of stories of Aladdin, and of other Arabian
fancies. On the way over his father said to him:

"Now, John, you will see a perfect palace."

They arrived, and John was awed into silence by the magnificence and
splendors of his surroundings until they went to the bath-room to wash
off the dust of travel. There he happened to notice a cake of pink soap.

"Why," he said, "they've even got their soap painted!" Next morning he
woke early--they were occupying the mahogany room on the ground floor
--and slipping out through the library, and to the door of the
dining-room, he saw the colored butler, George--the immortal
George--setting the breakfast-table. He hurriedly tiptoed back and
whispered to his father:

"Come quick! The slave is setting the table!"

This being the second mention of George, it seems proper here that he
should be formally presented. Clemens used to say that George came one
day to wash windows and remained eighteen years. He was precisely the
sort of character that Mark Twain loved. He had formerly been the
body-servant of an army general and was typically racially Southern, with
those delightful attributes of wit and policy and gentleness which go
with the best type of negro character. The children loved him no less
than did their father. Mrs. Clemens likewise had a weakness for George,
though she did not approve of him. George's morals were defective. He
was an inveterate gambler. He would bet on anything, though prudently
and with knowledge. He would investigate before he invested. If he
placed his money on a horse, he knew the horse's pedigree and the
pedigree of the horses against it, also of their riders. If he invested
in an election, he knew all about the candidates. He had agents among
his own race, and among the whites as well, to supply him with
information. He kept them faithful to him by lending them money--at
ruinous interest. He buttonholed Mark Twain's callers while he was
removing their coats concerning the political situation, much to the
chagrin of Mrs. Clemens, who protested, though vainly, for the men liked
George and his ways, and upheld him in his iniquities.

Mrs. Clemens's disapproval of George reached the point, now and then,
where she declared he could not remain.

She even discharged him once, but next morning George was at the
breakfast-table, in attendance, as usual. Mrs. Clemens looked at him
gravely:

"George," she said, "didn't I discharge you yesterday?"

"Yes, Mis' Clemens, but I knew you couldn't get along without me, so I
thought I'd better stay a while."

In one of the letters to Howells, Clemens wrote:

When George first came he was one of the most religious of men. He had
but one fault--young George Washington's. But I have trained him; and
now it fairly breaks Mrs. Clemens's heart to hear him stand at that front
door and lie to an unwelcome visitor.

George was a fine diplomat. He would come up to the billiard-room with a
card or message from some one waiting below, and Clemens would fling his
soul into a sultry denial which became a soothing and balmy subterfuge
before it reached the front door.

The "slave" must have been setting the table in good season, for the
Clemens breakfasts were likely to be late. They usually came along about
nine o'clock, by which time Howells and John were fairly clawing with
hunger.

Clemens did not have an early appetite, but when it came it was a good
one. Breakfast and dinner were his important meals. He seldom ate at
all during the middle of the day, though if guests were present he would
join them at luncheon-time and walk up and down while they were eating,
talking and gesticulating in his fervent, fascinating way. Sometimes
Mrs. Clemens would say:

"Oh, Youth, do come and sit down with us. We can listen so much better."

But he seldom did. At dinner, too, it was his habit, between the
courses, to rise from the table and walk up and down the room, waving his
napkin and talking!--talking in a strain and with a charm that he could
never quite equal with his pen. It's the opinion of most people who knew
Mark Twain personally that his impromptu utterances, delivered with that
ineffable quality of speech, manifested the culmination of his genius.

When Clemens came to Boston the Howells household was regulated, or
rather unregulated, without regard to former routine. Mark Twain's
personality was of a sort that unconsciously compelled the general
attendance of any household. The reader may recall Josh Billings's
remark on the subject. Howells tells how they kept their guest to
themselves when he visited their home in Cambridge, permitting him to
indulge in as many unconventions as he chose; how Clemens would take a
room at the Parker House, leaving the gas burning day and night, and
perhaps arrive at Cambridge, after a dinner or a reading, in evening
dress and slippers, and joyously remain with them for a day or more in
that guise, slipping on an overcoat and a pair of rubbers when they went
for a walk. Also, how he smoked continuously in every room of the house,
smoked during every waking moment, and how Howells, mindful of his
insurance, sometimes slipped in and removed the still-burning cigar after
he was asleep.

Clemens had difficulty in getting to sleep in that earlier day, and for a
time found it soothing to drink a little champagne on retiring. Once,
when he arrived in Boston, Howells said:

"Clemens, we've laid in a bottle of champagne for you."

But he answered:

"Oh, that's no good any more. Beer's the thing."

So Howells provided the beer, and always afterward had a vision of his
guest going up-stairs that night with a pint bottle under each arm.

He invented other methods of inducing slumber as the years went by, and
at one time found that this precious boon came more easily when he
stretched himself on the bath-room floor.

He was a perpetual joy to the Howells family when he was there, even
though the household required a general reorganization when he was gone.

Mildred Howells remembers how, as a very little girl, her mother
cautioned her not to ask for anything she wanted at the table when
company was present, but to speak privately of it to her. Miss Howells
declares that while Mark Twain was their guest she nearly starved because
it was impossible to get her mother's attention; and Mrs. Howells, after
one of those visits of hilarity and disorder, said:

"Well, it 'most kills me, but it pays," a remark which Clemens vastly
enjoyed. Howells himself once wrote:

Your visit was a perfect ovation for us; we never enjoy anything so much
as those visits of yours. The smoke and the Scotch and the late hours
almost kill us; but we look each other in the eyes when you are gone, and
say what a glorious time it was, and air the library, and begin sleeping
and longing to have you back again....




CVIII

SUMMER LABORS AT QUARRY FARM

They went to Elmira, that summer of '76, to be "hermits and eschew caves
and live in the sun," as Clemens wrote in a letter to Dr. Brown. They
returned to the place as to Paradise: Clemens to his study and the books
which he always called for, Mrs. Clemens to a blessed relief from social
obligations, the children to the shady play-places, the green, sloping
hill, where they could race and tumble, and to all their animal friends.

Susy was really growing up. She had had several birthdays, quite grand
affairs, when she had been brought down in the morning, decked, and with
proper ceremonies, with subsequent celebration. She was a strange,
thoughtful child, much given to reflecting on the power and presence of
infinity, for she was religiously taught. Down in the city, one night,
there was a grand display of fireworks, and the hilltop was a good place
from which to enjoy it; but it grew late after a little, and Susy was
ordered to bed. She said, thoughtfully:

"I wish I could sit up all night, as God does."

The baby, whom they still called "Bay," was a tiny, brown creature who
liked to romp in the sun and be rocked to sleep at night with a song.
Clemens often took them for extended' walks, pushing Bay in her carriage.
Once, in a preoccupied moment, he let go of the little vehicle and it
started downhill, gaining speed rapidly.

He awoke then, and set off in wild pursuit. Before he could overtake the
runaway carriage it had turned to the roadside and upset. Bay was lying
among the stones and her head was bleeding. Hastily binding the wound
with a handkerchief he started full speed with her up the hill toward the
house, calling for restoratives as he came. It was no serious matter.
The little girl was strong and did not readily give way to affliction.

The children were unlike: Susy was all contemplation and nerves; Bay
serene and practical. It was said, when a pet cat died--this was some
years later--that Susy deeply reflected as to its life here and
hereafter, while Bay was concerned only as to the style of its funeral.
Susy showed early her father's quaintness of remark. Once they bought
her a heavier pair of shoes than she approved of. She was not in the
best of humors during the day, and that night, when at prayer-time her
mother said, "Now, Susy, put your thoughts on God," she answered, "Mama,
I can't with those shoes."

Clemens worked steadily that summer and did a variety of things. He had
given up a novel, begun with much enthusiasm, but he had undertaken
another long manuscript. By the middle of August he had written several
hundred pages of a story which was to be a continuation of Tam Sawyer
--The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Now, here is a curious phase of
genius. The novel which for a time had filled him with enthusiasm and
faith had no important literary value, whereas, concerning this new tale,
he says:

"I like it only tolerably well, as far as I have gone, and may possibly
pigeonhole or burn the manuscript when it is done"--this of the story
which, of his books of pure fiction, will perhaps longest survive. He
did, in fact, give the story up, and without much regret, when it was
about half completed, and let it lie unfinished for years.

He wrote one short tale, "The Canvasser's Story," a burlesque of no
special distinction, and he projected for the Atlantic a scheme of
"blindfold novelettes," a series of stories to be written by well-known
authors and others, each to be constructed on the same plot. One can
easily imagine Clemens's enthusiasm over a banal project like that; his
impulses were always rainbow-hued, whether valuable or not; but it is
curious that Howells should welcome and even encourage an enterprise so
far removed from all the traditions of art. It fell to pieces, at last,
of inherent misconstruction. The title was to be, "A Murder and a
Marriage." Clemens could not arrive at a logical climax that did not
bring the marriage and the hanging on the same day.

The Atlantic started its "Contributors' Club," and Howells wrote to
Clemens for a paragraph or more of personal opinion on any subject,
assuring him that he could "spit his spite" out at somebody or something
as if it were a passage from a letter. That was a fairly large
permission to give Mark Twain. The paragraph he sent was the sort of
thing he would write with glee, and hug himself over in the thought of
Howells's necessity of rejecting it. In the accompanying note he said:

Say, Boss, do you want this to lighten up your old freight-train with? I
suppose you won't, but then it won't take long to say, so.

He was always sending impossible offerings to the magazines; innocently
enough sometimes, but often out of pure mischievousness. Yet they were
constantly after him, for they knew they were likely to get a first-water
gem. Mary Mopes Dodge, of St. Nicholas, wrote time and again, and
finally said:

"I know a man who was persecuted by an editor till he went distracted."

In his reading that year at the farm he gave more than customary
attention to one of his favorite books, Pepys' Diary, that captivating
old record which no one can follow continuously without catching the
infection of its manner and the desire of imitation. He had been reading
diligently one day, when he determined to try his hand on an imaginary
record of conversation and court manners of a bygone day, written in the
phrase of the period. The result was Fireside Conversation in the Time
of Queen Elizabeth, or, as he later called it, 1601. The "conversation,"
recorded by a supposed Pepys of that period, was written with all the
outspoken coarseness and nakedness of that rank day, when fireside
sociabilities were limited only by the range of loosened fancy,
vocabulary, and physical performance, and not by any bounds of
convention. Howells has spoken of Mark Twain's "Elizabethan breadth of
parlance," and how he, Howells, was always hiding away in discreet holes
and corners the letters in which Clemens had "loosed his bold fancy to
stoop on rank suggestion." "I could not bear to burn them," he declares,
"and I could not, after the first reading, quite bear to look at them."

In the 1601 Mark Twain outdid himself in the Elizabethan field. It was
written as a letter to that robust divine, Rev. Joseph Twichell, who had
no special scruples concerning Shakespearian parlance and customs. Before
it was mailed it was shown to David Gray, who was spending a Sunday at
Elmira. Gray said:

"Print it and put your name to it, Mark. You have never done a greater
piece of work than that."

John Hay, whom it also reached in due time, pronounce it a classic--a
"most exquisite bit of old English morality." Hay surreptitiously
permitted some proofs to be made of it, and it has been circulated
privately, though sparingly, ever since. At one time a special font of
antique type was made for it and one hundred copies were taken on
hand-made paper. They would easily bring a hundred dollars each to-day.

1601 is a genuine classic, as classics of that sort go. It is better
than the gross obscenities of Rabelais, and perhaps, in some day to come,
the taste that justified Gargantua and the Decameron will give this
literary refugee shelter and setting among the more conventional writings
of Mark Twain. Human taste is a curious thing; delicacy is purely a
matter of environment and point of view.--[In a note-book of a later
period Clemens himself wrote: "It depends on who writes a thing whether
it is coarse or not. I once wrote a conversation between Elizabeth,
Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Beaumont, Sir W. Raleigh, Lord Bacon, Sir
Nicholas Throckmorton, and a stupid old nobleman--this latter being
cup-bearer to the queen and ostensible reporter of the talk.

"There were four maids of honor present and a sweet young girl two years
younger than the boy Beaumont. I built a conversation which could have
happened--I used words such as were used at that time--1601. I sent it
anonymously to a magazine, and how the editor abused it and the sender!
But that man was a praiser of Rabelais, and had been saying, 'O that we
had a Rabelais!' I judged that I could furnish him one."]

Eighteen hundred and seventy-six was a Presidential year--the year of the
Hayes-Tilden campaign. Clemens and Howells were both warm Republicans
and actively interested in the outcome, Clemens, as he confessed, for the
first time in his life. Before his return to Hartford he announced
himself publicly as a Hayes man, made so by Governor Hayes's letter of
acceptance, which, he said, "expresses my own political convictions." His
politics had not been generally known up to that time, and a Tilden and
Hendricks club in Jersey City had invited him to be present and give them
some political counsel, at a flag-raising. He wrote, declining
pleasantly enough, then added:

"You have asked me for some political counsel or advice: In view of Mr.
Tilden's Civil War record my advice is not to raise the flag."

He wrote Howells: "If Tilden is elected I think the entire country will
go pretty straight to--Mrs. Howells's bad place."

Howells was writing a campaign biography of Hayes, which he hoped would
have a large sale, and Clemens urged him to get it out quickly and save
the country. Howells, working like a beaver, in turn urged Clemens to
take the field in the cause. Returning to Hartford, Clemens presided at
a political rally and made a speech, the most widely quoted of the
campaign. All papers, without distinction as to party, quoted it, and
all readers, regardless of politics, read it with joy.

Yet conditions did not improve. When Howells's book had been out a
reasonable length of time he wrote that it had sold only two thousand
copies.

"There's success for you," he said. "It makes me despair of the
Republic, I can tell you."

Clemens, however, did not lose faith, and went on shouting for Hayes and
damning Tilden till the final vote was cast. In later life he changed
his mind about Tilden (as did many others) through sympathy. Sympathy
could make--Mark Twain change his mind any time. He stood for the right,
but, above all, for justice. He stood for the wronged, regardless of all
other things.




CIX

THE PUBLIC APPEARANCE OF "TOM SAWYER"

Clemens gave a few readings in Boston and Philadelphia, but when urged to
go elsewhere made the excuse that he was having his portrait painted and
could not leave home.

As a matter of fact, he was enjoying himself with Frank Millet, who had
been invited to the house to do the portrait and had captured the fervent
admiration of the whole family. Millet was young, handsome, and lively;
Clemens couldn't see enough of him, the children adored him and added his
name to the prayer which included each member of the household--the "Holy
Family," Clemens called it.

Millet had brought with him but one piece of canvas for the portrait, and
when the first sketch was finished Mrs. Clemens was so delighted with it
that she did not wish him to touch it again. She was afraid of losing
some particular feeling in it which she valued. Millet went to the city.
for another canvas and Clemens accompanied him. While Millet was doing
his shopping it happened to occur to Clemens that it would be well to
fill in the time by having his hair cut. He left word with a clerk to
tell Millet that he had gone across the street. By and by the artist
came over, and nearly wept with despair when he saw his subject sheared
of the auburn, gray-sprinkled aureola that had made his first sketch a
success. He tried it again, and the result was an excellent likeness,
but it never satisfied Millet.

The 'Adventures of Tom Sawyer' appeared late in December (1876), and
immediately took its place as foremost of American stories of boy life, a
place which it unquestionably holds to this day. We have already
considered the personal details of this story, for they were essentially
nothing more than the various aspects of Mark Twain's own boyhood. It is
only necessary to add a word concerning the elaboration of this period in
literary form.

From every point it is a masterpiece, this picture of boy life in a
little lazy, drowsy town, with all the irresponsibility and general
disreputability of boy character coupled with that indefinable, formless,
elusive something we call boy conscience, which is more likely to be boy
terror and a latent instinct of manliness. These things are so truly
portrayed that every boy and man reader finds the tale fitting into his
own remembered years, as if it had grown there. Every boy has played off
sick to escape school; every boy has reflected in his heart Tom's picture
of himself being brought home dead, and gloated over the stricken
consciences of those who had blighted his young life; every boy--of that
day, at least--every normal, respectable boy, grew up to "fear God and
dread the Sunday-school," as Howells puts it in his review.

As for the story itself, the narrative of it, it is pure delight. The
pirate camp on the island is simply boy heaven. What boy, for instance,
would not change any other glory or boon that the world holds for this:

    They built a fire against the side of a great log twenty or thirty
    steps within the somber depths of the forest, and then cooked some
    bacon in the frying-pan for supper, and used up half of the corn
    "pone" stock they had brought. It seemed glorious sport to be
    feasting in that wild, free way in the virgin forest of an
    unexplored and uninhabited island, far from the haunts of men, and
    they said they never would return to civilization. The climbing
    fire lit up their faces and threw its ruddy glare upon the pillared
    tree-trunks of their forest-temple, and upon the varnished foliage
    and the festooning vines.

There is a magic in it. Mark Twain, when he wrote it, felt renewed in
him all the old fascination of those days and nights with Tom
Blankenship, John Briggs, and the Bowen boys on Glasscock's Island.
Everywhere in Tom Sawyer there is a quality, entirely apart from the
humor and the narrative, which the younger reader is likely to overlook.
No one forgets the whitewashing scene, but not many of us, from our early
reading, recall this delicious bit of description which introduces it:

    The locust-trees were in bloom, and the fragrance of the blossoms
    filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond the village and above it, was
    green with vegetation, and it lay just far enough away to seem a
    delectable land, dreamy, reposeful, and inviting.

Tom's night visit home; the graveyard scene, with the murder of Dr.
Robinson; the adventures of Tom and Becky in the cave--these are all
marvelously invented. Literary thrill touches the ultimate in one
incident of the cave episode. Brander Matthews has written:

    Nor is there any situation quite as thrilling as that awful moment
    in the cave when the boy and girl are lost in the darkness, and when
    Tom suddenly sees a human hand bearing a light, and then finds that
    the hand is the hand of Indian Joe, his one mortal enemy. I have
    always thought that the vision of the hand in the cave in Tom Sawyer
    was one of the very finest things in the literature of adventure
    since Robinson Crusoe first saw a single footprint in the sand of
    the sea-shore.

Mark Twain's invention was not always a reliable quantity, but with that
eccentricity which goes with any attribute of genius, it was likely at
any moment to rise supreme. If to the critical, hardened reader the tale
seems a shade overdone here and there, a trifle extravagant in its
delineations, let him go back to his first long-ago reading of it and see
if he recalls anything but his pure delight in it then. As a boy's story
it has not been equaled.

Tom Sawyer has ranked in popularity with Roughing It.

Its sales go steadily on from year to year, and are likely to continue so
long as boys and girls do not change, and men and women remember.

--[Col. Henry Watterson, when he finished Tom Sawyer, wrote: "I have
just laid down Tom Sawyer, and cannot resist the pressure. It is
immense! I read every word of it, didn't skip a line, and nearly
disgraced myself several times in the presence of a sleeping-car full of
honorable and pious people. Once I had to get to one side and have a
cry, and as for an internal compound of laughter and tears there was no
end to it.... The 'funeral' of the boys, the cave business, and the hunt
for the hidden treasure are as dramatic as anything I know of in fiction,
while the pathos--particularly everything relating to Huck and Aunt
Polly--makes a cross between Dickens's skill and Thackeray's nature,
which, resembling neither, is thoroughly impressive and original."]




CX

MARK TWAIN AND BRET HARTE WRITE A PLAY

It was the fall and winter of '76 that Bret Harte came to Hartford and
collaborated with Mark Twain on the play "Ah Sin," a comedy-drama, or
melodrama, written for Charles T. Parsloe, the great impersonator of
Chinese character. Harte had written a successful play which
unfortunately he had sold outright for no great sum, and was eager for
another venture. Harte had the dramatic sense and constructive
invention. He also had humor, but he felt the need of the sort of humor
that Mark Twain could furnish. Furthermore, he believed that a play
backed by both their reputations must start with great advantages.
Clemens also realized these things, and the arrangement was made.
Speaking of their method of working, Clemens once said:

"Well, Bret came down to Hartford and we talked it over, and then Bret
wrote it while I played billiards, but of course I had to go over it to
get the dialect right. Bret never did know anything about dialect."
Which is hardly a fair statement of the case. They both worked on the
play, and worked hard.

During the period of its construction Harte had an order for a story
which he said he must finish at once, as he needed the money. It must be
delivered by the following night, and he insisted that he must be getting
at it without a moment's delay. Still he seemed in no haste to begin.
The evening passed; bedtime came. Then he asked that an open fire might
be made in his room and a bottle of whisky sent up, in case he needed.
something to keep him awake. George attended to these matters, and
nothing more was heard of Harte until very early next morning, when he
rang for George and asked for a fresh fire and an additional supply of
whisky. At breakfast-time he appeared, fresh, rosy, and elate, with the
announcement that his story was complete.

That forenoon the Saturday Morning Club met at the Clemens home. It was
a young women's club, of which Mark Twain was a sort of honorary member
--a club for the purpose of intellectual advancement, somewhat on the
order of the Monday Evening Club of men, except that the papers read
before it were not prepared by members, but by men and women prominent in
some field of intellectual progress. Bret Harte had agreed to read to
them on this particular occasion, and he gaily appeared and gave them the
story just finished, "Thankful Blossom," a tale which Mark Twain always
regarded as one of Harte's very best.

The new play, "Ah Sin," by Mark Twain and Bret Harte, was put on at
Washington, at the National Theater, on the evening of May 7, 1877. It
had been widely exploited in the newspapers, and the fame of the authors
insured a crowded opening. Clemens was unable to go over on account of a
sudden attack of bronchitis. Parsloe was nervous accordingly, and the
presence of Harte does not seem to have added to his happiness.

"I am not very well myself," he wrote to Clemens. "The excitement of the
first night is bad enough, but to have the annoyance with Harte that I
have is too much for a new beginner."

Nevertheless, the play seems to have gone well, with Parsloe as Ah Sin
--a Chinese laundryman who was also a great number of other diverting
things--with a fair support and a happy-go-lucky presentation of frontier
life, which included a supposed murder, a false accusation, and a general
clearing-up of mystery by the pleasant and wily and useful and
entertaining Ah Sin. It was not a great play. It was neither very
coherent nor convincing, but it had a lot of good fun in it, with
character parts which, if not faithful to life, were faithful enough to
the public conception of it to be amusing and exciting. At the end of
each act not only Parsloe, but also the principal members of the company,
were called before the curtain for special acknowledgments. When it was
over there was a general call for Ah Sin, who came before the curtain and
read a telegram.

CHARLES T. PARSLOE,--I am on the sick-list, and therefore cannot come to
Washington; but I have prepared two speeches--one to deliver in event of
failure of the play, and the other if successful. Please tell me which I
shall send. May be better to put it to vote.

                            MARK TWAIN.

The house cheered the letter, and when it was put to vote decided
unanimously that the play had been a success--a verdict more kindly than
true.

J. I. Ford, of the theater management, wrote to Clemens, next morning
after the first performance, urging him to come to Washington in person
and "wet nurse" the play until "it could do for itself."

Ford expressed satisfaction with the play and its prospects, and
concludes:

I inclose notices. Come if you can. "Your presence will be worth ten
thousand men. The king's name is a tower of strength." I have urged the
President to come to-night.

The play made no money in Washington, but Augustin Daly decided to put it
on in New York at the Fifth Avenue Theater, with a company which
included, besides Parsloe, Edmund Collier, P. A. Anderson, Dora
Goldthwaite, Henry Crisp, and Mrs. Wells, a very worthy group of players
indeed. Clemens was present at the opening, dressed in white, which he
affected only for warm-weather use in those days, and made a speech at
the end of the third act.

"Ah Sin" did not excite much enthusiasm among New York dramatic critics.
The houses were promising for a time, but for some reason the performance
as a whole did not contain the elements of prosperity. It set out on its
provincial travels with no particular prestige beyond the reputation of
its authors; and it would seem that this was not enough, for it failed to
pay, and all parties concerned presently abandoned it to its fate and it
was heard of no more. Just why "Ah Sin" did not prosper it would not
become us to decide at this far remove of time and taste. Poorer plays
have succeeded and better plays have failed since then, and no one has
ever been able to demonstrate the mystery. A touch somewhere, a
pulling-about and a readjustment, might have saved "Ali Sin," but the
pullings and haulings which they gave it did not. Perhaps it still lies
in some managerial vault, and some day may be dragged to light and
reconstructed and recast, and come into its reward. Who knows? Or it
may have drifted to that harbor of forgotten plays, whence there is no
returning.

As between Harte and Clemens, the whole matter was unfortunate. In the
course of their association there arose a friction and the long-time
friendship disappeared.




CXI

A BERMUDA HOLIDAY

On the 16th of May, 1877, Mark Twain set out on what, in his note-book,
he declared to be "the first actual pleasure-trip" he had ever taken,
meaning that on every previous trip he had started with a purpose other
than that of mere enjoyment. He took with him his, friend and pastor,
the Rev. Joseph H. Twichell, and they sailed for Bermuda, an island
resort not so well known or so fashionable as to-day.

They did not go to a hotel. Under assumed names they took up quarters in
a boarding-house, with a Mrs. Kirkham, and were unmolested and altogether
happy in their wanderings through four golden days. Mark Twain could not
resist keeping a note-book, setting down bits of scenery and character
and incident, just as he had always done. He was impressed with the
cheapness of property and living in the Bermuda of that period. He makes
special mention of some cottages constructed of coral blocks: "All as
beautiful and as neat as a pin, at the cost of four hundred and eighty
dollars each." To Twichell he remarked:

"Joe, this place is like Heaven, and I'm going to make the most of it."

"Mark," said Twichell, "that's right; make the most of a place that is
like Heaven while you have a chance."

In one of the entries--the final one--Clemens says:

"Bermuda is free (at present) from the triple curse of railways,
telegraphs, and newspapers, but this will not last the year. I propose
to spend next year here and no more."

When they were ready to leave, and started for the steamer, Twichell made
an excuse to go back, his purpose being to tell their landlady and her
daughter that, without knowing it, they had been entertaining Mark Twain.

"Did you ever hear of Mark Twain?" asked Twichell.

The daughter answered.

"Yes," she said, "until I'm tired of the name. I know a young man who
never talks of anything else."

"Well," said Twichell, "that gentleman with me is Mark Twain."

The Kirkhams declined to believe it at first, and then were in deep
sorrow that they had not known it earlier. Twichell promised that he and
Clemens would come back the next year; and they meant to go back--we
always mean to go back to places--but it was thirty years before they
returned at last, and then their pleasant landlady was dead.

On the home trip they sighted a wandering vessel, manned by blacks,
trying to get to New York. She had no cargo and was pretty helpless.
Later, when she was reported again, Clemens wrote about it in a Hartford
paper, telling the story as he knew it. The vessel had shipped the crew,
on a basis of passage to New York, in exchange for labor. So it was a
"pleasure-excursion!" Clemens dwelt on this fancy:

    I have heard of a good many pleasure-excursions, but this heads the
    list. It is monumental, and if ever the tired old tramp is found I
    should like to be there and see him in his sorrowful rags and his
    venerable head of grass and seaweed, and hear the ancient mariners
    tell the story of their mysterious wanderings through the solemn
    solitudes of the ocean.

Long afterward this vagrant craft was reported again, still drifting with
the relentless Gulf Stream. Perhaps she reached New York in time; one
would like to know, but there seems no good way to find out.

That first Bermuda voyage was always a happy memory to Mark Twain. To
Twichell he wrote that it was the "joyousest trip" he had ever made:

    Not a heartache anywhere, not a twinge of conscience. I often come
    to myself out o